Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Cambridge History of Medicine

I have never been interested in the history of medical sciences. I have indirectly and in ad hoc heard of its advancements and set backs, but I have never had the curousity or interest to pursue a more in depth knowledge of it. My view has been: human being is her best physician and pharmacist. No two people are alike, therefore no two people's health strengths and weaknesses can be put in the same category despite similar symptoms. My quick and superficial readings of medical advancements or lack of it, left me suspicious of its benefit. When a life event put me in an uncomfortable proximity of medicine, one that I had no choice but to surrender to the risk of its flaws, and inaccuracies in the hope, it will help, I became really interested in reading about it.

I didn't read the "Illustrated" version, but that's the only version available in Goodreads. The Cambridge History of Medicine, is a collection of ten articles written by various medical historians or medical physicians. The titles explore the history and rise of medicine and its evolution through years as well as the care system, the hospitals and the pharmacology.

As we settled down in one place and started changing and manipulating our evironment to sustain us, we became "magnets for disease." Farming and domesticizing exposed the human body to pathogens. These pathogens invaded the human body and killed mercilessly. Those who survived the disease became immune to it. This way, human body developed a sophisticated immune system. [Para-phrasing Chapter 1 - The History of Disease, by Kenneth f. Kiple]

So, I guess we can call disease an inadvertent invention of civilization.

The last two chapters, "Looking to the Future (1996)" and "Looking to the Future (2006)" by Geoff Watts is thought provoking. Despite the enthusiasm and ingenious ideas, such as personalized medicine, and gene-therapy, medical system is bound by funding, often providied by the government and/or private sources. There is --no-- effective world body to orchestrate the effort, guide and direct it in the direction per the defined necessity and priority and make it easily available to everyone --from all walks of life, to poor and rich alike.

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