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THIS MONTH, the Archives joins its nine fellow publications of the American Medical Association in addressing the common theme, "Disease Prevention and Health Promotion." For many, the very title is off-putting: some woolly-headed Fabian notion beyond the precise medical paradigm in which we were trained. We are, after all, successors of a long tradition of healers. Preventing illness is someone else's concern, and what is health if not the absence of disease?
In reality, our clinical forebears (of less than a century ago) primarily practiced preventive medicine for the simple reason that there was little they could effectively treat. Life expectancy has nearly doubled over the past 100 years; lest we forget, to our peril, this has largely resulted from the prevention of disease and promotion of health, not from the treatment of disease once it has occurred. Death rates from typhoid and blindness
Sommer A. Disease Prevention and Health PromotionA Clinical Primer. Arch Ophthalmol. 1995;113(4):419-420. doi:10.1001/archopht.1995.01100040033022