By:Puneet Dhaliwal, Pharmacist
Remember the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Promoting health and well-being and preventing disease, disabilities and death is the central focus of preventive healthcare. This is a proactive approach to medicine rather than a reactive approach where patients may end up in an emergency room or may develop a more advanced illness. By focusing on detecting issues before they become problematic, preventive healthcare is a means to save not only taxpayer money by detecting disease early when treatments are more effective and less costly but to save the patient from severe disease and possible death by providing early diagnoses and treatments.
Most of us are familiar with many types of preventive medicine. These include:
• Tests for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.
• Many types of cancer screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies.
• Healthy pregnancy visits and screenings (ultrasounds).
• Regular well-baby and well-child visits.
• Routine vaccinations for measles, mumps, polio, meningitis, flu, covid, and others.
• Public health information and health providers’ counselling for quitting smoking, diet and exercise, mental health and reducing drug and alcohol use.
• The growth in genetic testing for some genetic disorders or to predict the risk of developing some diseases.
The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Healthcare is one main source of information and guidance for healthcare practitioners. Deciding on what screenings and how often is a crucial decision for healthcare practitioners since weighing the benefits and risks as well as the timing allows for the best possible practice for all patients.
Strengthening preventive healthcare practices will hopefully decrease chronic conditions and support all people to maintain good health throughout their lives.