Friday, May 17, 2013

Touching Lives

X ray was discovered by William Roentgen in 1875 but the first recorded medical use was by John Hall Edwards in 1896 when he recorded a needle stuck in the hand of one his associates.  
The first X ray
(Picture courtesy: Wikipedia)
21 years it took for the scientists to realize the actual potential of the x ray. X ray can be said to be the first modern medical technology where the field of medicine broke the traditional concepts of surgery and medicines. X ray offered an unhindered vision into the human body which was not even dreamed of before.  Ever since then modern healthcare acquired a whole new meaning. The use of machines gave a definite diagnosis where only guesswork and assumptions were available previously.
In the present state, modern healthcare makes treatments easily available for the masses. Many instances can be given on how the lives of people have been touched by the new healthcare system.
‘Prevention is better than cure’
We all have said and heard this a thousand times at least. Vaccinations are probably the perfect examples for this. Vaccines may not be considered ‘modern’ but the advent of vaccines is one of the major reasons for the reduced infant mortality rates all over the world. The disease small pox was eliminated from the face of the earth only by vaccination. Dreadful disease polio is also on its way of extinction. Our country is already said to have eliminated polio. This was also done by the systematic vaccination schemes.
Awareness is an important aspect of the modern healthcare. With rising number of hospitals and clinics people have become aware of the diseases and various treatments. Earlier camps and all have to be conducted for the people. It was like going to the people with the medicine but now the population knows when to go to a doctor. I know this personally because I am a practising dentist. Earlier people come to a dentist when they have an unbearable toothache and they just want to extract the tooth but now they visit a dentist as soon as they suspect caries. Awareness of this level among the population has vastly helped to control many diseases. They have succeeded in assuring the constant rise of life expectancy of people in the country.
More and more people now come to a hospital and make use of the modern healthcare facilities because of the faith in the system. Many years back the majority of the people were sceptical of going to a hospital. They did not trust the medicines that were put into the veins. Now they embrace it. Modern facilities have the faith of the people which itself is a great deal while treating a disease.
This faith is mainly because they know there are only a few other fields where so much research takes place. Researches on all aspects of the medical field are taking place all over the world at an astonishing pace. With absolute surety I can tell you the researches taking place in the medical field touch the lives of each and every single person. Years back a block in the heart was a death sentence, now it is just another disease which can be treated surgically. Diabetes was a life shattering disease, now it is a life style changing condition.  Recently a hormone called betatrophin was discovered which could generate beta cells and the daily insulin shots can be stopped.  Dialysis was a rare and risky procedure done on terminal patients, these days many people get it down twice or thrice a week and lead a good life. Cancer was indeed the Emperor of Maladies. With wide spread availability of radiation, chemotherapy and surgical procedures cancer to some extent can be controlled. The results of such meticulous research are that diseases which were considered incurable in the yesteryears are being cured now. AIDS which was deemed as incurable is getting cures from different researches. It was only two months back that an infant was cured of AIDS. The actual drug might take some time to reach the market but it is a start.
 More than the actual procedures it is the latest in diagnostic techniques which can lead to an early detection and hence early treatment.  The different diagnostic techniques are being popularized nowadays for an early detection of the diseases. Oral cancer can be detected from the scrapings from the cheek. The advancements in the chemistry and physics have contributed a lot to the development of various diagnostic techniques.  Diagnostic scans based on nuclear medicine like bone scan and PET scan give a whole new perspective to diagnosis and treatment as they point out problems pertaining to specific locations of our body. These techniques show diseases and conditions of our body like never before. More and more people are opting for a routine health check-up twice a year because they know earlier you start treating better are the results.  
An aspect of modern healthcare which is said to be a downfall is the cost. Some may find the hospital costs exorbitant but in the same page something has to be added. It is that the cost is for the services offered; no other facilities have as much recurring expenses or overheads as healthcare field. The big machines used for diagnosis comes with a price. If a person takes a normal health insurance he or she will find the hospitals very much affordable, with more competitions in the insurance field patient is benefiting  Hospitals only are giving out special schemes for the needy, they just have to utilized.
Modern healthcare as many have perceived is not just the new medicines and big machines.  It is a holistic approach aiming to alleviate the sufferings of the patient and ensure a good standard of living. Modern healthcare uses the best of all proven modalities to treat a patient. It may include music therapy, yoga, meditation etc..  Meditation and yoga has been proven to reduce mental stress and fatigue thereby easing many of the physical problems.  Modern healthcare deviates from the strictly traditional setting and seek new methods to help the patient.  A healthy mind is the key to a healthy body.
Finally the most important of all is that modern healthcare gives hope. It gives hope to the patient and to their loved ones.  It gives hope to the most terminal of all patients that the modern healthcare system is advanced enough to cure them, that there will be some sort of experimental treatment somewhere in the world to cure them. It is all about the faith people have in the healthcare system. So how does modern healthcare touch lives? By giving them hope.

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve it through not dying
Woody Allen 

This post is written as an entry to the Indiblogger contest 'How does modern healthcare touch lives?' in association with Apolo Hospitals .


  1. you're right.. modern medicine looks for alternative avenues.. various means and modalities to find the answer. Its not afraid to look back to the past if need be.. hopefully somewhere in there , there will be more answers for us.

    1. Exactly. Truly modern medicine is open to accommodate the various modalities.

  2. Good one :-) all the best for the contest :-)


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