Miscellany | Published:


Nature volume 101, pages 8993 (04 April 1918) | Download Citation



THAT “prevention is better than cure” needs no argument, and yet it may be observed from time to time in the daily papers that the general idea of a Ministry of Public Health seems to be that the various-organisations for treatment of disease are very specifically involved, and that, provided the interests of these organisations are secured, all might go well. It is only Lord Rhondda who appears to place prevention well to the front. Insurance against sickness is necessary where prevention fails, but surely every bed occupied toy a sick man or woman is a possible censure upon the prevention side. There are, therefore, two distinct branches of work. Prevention involves the organisation of science, not merely laboratory science, but also the practical applications of the lessons learned in the laboratory, these applications being carried out by scientifically trained men. Treatment involves the reconstruction of our hospital system. If we are to have a HealtH Ministry and a really national Health Service it is the prevention side that demands, and must receive, the chief attention of our statesmen. For the cure of disease we may justly be proud of our doctors of all ranks. But what is their work? Nine-tenths of it is trying to remedy and cure easily preventable disease. King Edward asked: “If preventable, why not prevented?” and his question has not yet been answered. If the Health Ministry is to be a success its chief aim must be prevention. We who believe in the urgent necessity for a Ministry of Health waiat to answer King Edward's question, and so to deal with the health of the nation that the next generation will know nothing of preventable disease, or, if it occurs, will regard it as a disgrace, and that the sufferer from any disease the cause of which is known and preventable will be as ashamed to admit it as is now the case with those affections which are known to foe the result of excesses and loose living.

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