Preventive healthcare is constituted by measures and interventions that prevent the disease from occurring or progressing as opposed to disease treatment. Diseases and disability encompasses a wide range of physical and mental states, which are affected by environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors. Every year, millions of people die of preventable causes. Leading preventable causes include cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illnesses, injuries, diabetes and infectious diseases. A study conducted in 2000, showed that more than half the deaths in USA were due to preventable behaviors and exposures.
Preventive Health Services: Know about them
Prevention can occur at four levels. At all of these levels, appropriate preventive health services play an important role. These levels are primary prevention (before disease onset), secondary prevention (to stop disease progression) and tertiary prevention (to provide rehabilitation and prevent further disability). There are numerous methods of disease prevention that are available as preventive health services.
Recommendations for making the most of preventive health services:
- Adults and children alike should visit their physician for regular checkups. Even if they feel healthy, there might be subclinical disease brewing underneath, which may require timely diagnosis.
- Regular disease screening is a must for identifying risk factors of a disease. It not just helps in early diagnosis, but also helps to keep you on track by showing your progress towards a better health. In patients with genetic predisposition to certain diseases, screening packages comes in handy to diagnose grave diseases prematurely and improve prognosis. Screening tests that are currently done include:
- Neonatal screening for diagnosis of genetic abnormalities, developmental malformations and inborn errors of metabolism that may prove to be fatal.
- Adult screening for diseases like hypertension and diabetes where early management and timely lifestyle changes can avoid use of drugs and medications.
- Lookout for disease risks such as high cholesterol and obesity, which cause a plethora of cardiovascular diseases.
- Screening for depression and other mental illnesses.
- Genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancers in women.
- Screening for other cancers like colorectal carcinoma, gastric cancers and so on, which can be prevented.
- Pap smear for cervical cancer screening.
- HIV testing to prevent its sexual and vertical spread.
- Osteoporosis screening.
- Up to date with immunizations and boosters: Immunization began with Edward Jenner’s small observation. It has now become a medium of prevention of many communicable diseases, which may prove to be fatal or disabling. Vaccination for small pox and polio has helped eradicate these diseases. Vaccinations for conditions like measles, chicken pox, diphtheria, tetanus, typhoid, rotavirus and many more have helped to save millions of infant lives. They protect against serious diseases for which no effective cure is available.
- Health care services also help to inculcate health-promoting acts while encouraging a healthy lifestyle. You also get tips on how to quit smoking if you are a chronic smoker. Discussing safe drinking tips are of utmost importance. It gives a good idea about healthy alcohol use.
- Regular screening and checkups help to develop a healthy relationship with health care providers.
There is broad debate over the benefits of preventive health services. There are no clear-cut answers to whether it saves money or merely represents a good investment. But in the end, all agree that premature screening and preventive measures can drastically improve the quality of life and save the government billions of dollars on health care. There is a greater value proposition around the notion of ‘prevention is better than treatment’. Policy makers should pursue and use options that will move the nation towards greater use of preventive sciences.