What is the Goal for Human Health?

Looking at data from The World Bank, http://data.worldbank.org/topic/health?end=2014&start=1993 it appears at the first look, that the focus on pharmaceutical (or biomedical) interventions to improve health have far less of an impact than lifestyle changes and access to healthy food, effective sanitation, and clean water.

In 2010, 66.8% of deaths (as percentage of total deaths) were from non-communicable diseases (heart-disease, stroke etc.). These diseases are lifestyle related. It is common knowledge that heart disease is exacerbated by smoking and stress for example, so would it not make more sense (if the goal was to improve human health outcomes in general) to focus on addressing these lifestyle related causes of disease and death?

In 2010, 24.103% of deaths worldwide (as percentage of total) were caused by communicable diseases and maternal, prenatal and nutrition conditions. So in fact, we cannot even see from the data displayed on this website the exact breakdown of deaths from communicable diseases (for which there are many pharmaceutical interventions) as distinct from maternal, prenatal and nutrition conditions. Again, it appears that the sensible interventions to prevent deaths and improve health outcomes would be in the areas of nutrition, water and sanitation. These improvements would all contribute to healthier people, who would then be less susceptible to communicable diseases.

It seems incredibly obvious when even having a cursory look at this data and the way it is presented, that there is no sense in trying to fix human health from the outside in, health simply does not work like that. The sensible thing to do is to ensure a sound basis of health with good nutrition, clean water, and sanitation. This foundation would then provide long-term protection from both communicable, non-communicable, and nutrition conditions

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