Let’s look at four areas of health “technology”: preventions, cures, facilitators, and alleviators. A prevention does just that–prevents an adverse health condition. A vaccine, for instance, prevents a disease (for many, and sometimes with adverse reactions, even deaths). Or, regular exercise may prevent cardiac disease. A cure heals or restores an adverse health condition. An infection clears up with antibiotics or a cancer goes into remission. A facilitator permits other medical interventions to take place–anesthesia, for instance, facilitates surgery and anti-nausea medication facilitates chemotherapy. Alleviators reduce symptoms or slow the progress of disease. In a sense, alleviators turn acute conditions into chronic ones.
In this list of “health technologies,” we might also consider priorities. Clearly, prevention is pretty neat. If one doesn’t get an adverse health condition in the first place, then all the rest of the medical interventions are not needed. Imagine, if you will, that we already have protection from many diseases and injuries–our immune systems, or gut biota or even the Earth’s magnetic field may prevent us from health adversities that would be caused by cosmic rays not getting deflected–just we don’t even think about these things much because we never suffer from them. Imagine–there could be a whole cloud of health adversities circling just beyond our ken that never appear because something we also don’t bother to know about keeps them at bay. Our little cocoon of not knowing. Similarly, the vitamin has cured and reduced the frequency of many deficiency diseases, just as the vaccine has eliminated some really nasty diseases from our immediate imagination–polio, say, or tetanus. Continue reading