Nowadays people seem to pay more and more attention to prevention issue than cure. That is why in recent years there has been a growing body of opinion in favor of putting more resources into health education and preventative measures. Nationwide publicity campaigns as well as longer term education are believed to be able to combat, for example, the ignorance of basic hygiene or the dangers of an unhealthy diet or lifestyle. Obviously, it is important to detect any medical condition as early as possible. There is also an economic argument for doing so. Statistics demonstrate that treating a condition in the early stages might definitely reduce unnecessary expensive and prolonged treatments coming up later on. Then there are social or economic costs, perhaps in terms of loss of earnings for the family concerned or unemployed benefit paid by the state. So far so good, but the difficulties start when we try to define what the proportion of the budget should be particularly if the funds are diverted from treatment, as both require proper investment and detailed financial plan. Decisions on exactly how much of the total budget should be spent in this way is not a matter for the non-specialist, but should be made on the basis of an acceptable health service model. This is the point at which real problems occur. How do we accurately measure which budget solution is effective in both medical and financial terms? A very rigorous process of evaluation is called for, so that we can make informed decisions.
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