Prevention is better than cure - what the popular saying has long been, in recent years, also increasingly in health and social policy. Be it health insurance companies with bonus programs, additional training for physicians or the draft of a prevention law - prevention is becoming increasingly widespread in the public debate. Life expectancy is rising steadily, especially in industrialized countries. But people can really only profit from it if the quality of life does not decrease. Here's the crux: The older people get, the sooner they suffer from chronic illnesses. In addition, over the past few decades, our lifestyle has changed dramatically - one-sided diet, too little exercise, smoking and alcohol, stress in work and everyday life are often our unhealthy companions. More and more people are becoming chronically ill. A development that is also politically and economically of some relevance. For example, a European survey estimates that costs incurred by Member States alone for work-related stress amount to € 20 billion.
Save costs in the health system through prevention
In Germany, billions of euros are spent annually on the treatment of chronic diseases of the cardiovascular, skeletal and muscular systems - a number that, according to the health experts, could be greatly reduced by targeted prevention. It could be estimated that seven to eight percent of the costs in the healthcare system can be saved by preventing cardiovascular disease alone. It would also be possible to counteract the premature, disease-related retirement of gainfully employed persons from the labor market.
What does prevention mean?
Prevention and health promotion are closely interlinked. The term "prevention" is synonymous with "prevention". It includes all precautions to prevent or at least delay illness, disability, long-term care and accidents. The main focus is on specific risk factors and contributory framework conditions as well as strategies for reducing them.
This can be achieved by behavioral change of the individual (behavioral prevention) or reorganization of the surrounding conditions (relative prevention). The latter is often achieved through government measures, and in behavioral prevention, experts also differentiate where appropriate measures apply:
- Universal prevention is aimed at the whole population or subgroups such as pregnant women or adolescents,
- Selective prevention of risk carriers such as the chronically ill, smokers or children from migrant families,
- the indicated / indicative prevention of people with risky behavior, for example adolescents who have become conspicuous because of drug use.
In addition, preventive measures are also classified according to where they take place - for example, one differentiates between legislative measures of family-related, school-related or community-based prevention. Probably the most common classification is that after the time when prevention takes place:
- Primary prevention: It aims to eliminate harmful factors before they can be effective at all. So that it can be used, therefore, not only harmful influences must be researched, but also - for example, in education campaigns - made known.
- Secondary prevention: It involves the detection of diseases and their treatment at the earliest possible stages - one example is cancer screening.
- Tertiary Prevention: This attacks when the disease has already occurred and tries to prevent their aggravation, complications and sequelae. An important pillar of this are rehabilitation measures. However, the limit to therapeutic measures is fluent here.
Accordingly, preventive medicine deals with measures that serve to monitor and maintain health. The term health promotion focuses on health, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.
All measures that lead to this condition or increase the level of self-determination are summarized under the term. This includes both the development of individual abilities and health-promoting structures.
The line of prevention is not always clear - for example, measures in kindergartens and schools that promote the life skills of children to prevent, for example, later violence or drug use, are also covered by preventive measures, although they certainly do Serving the health.