Friday, February 01, 2013

What is Killer Number 1 ?

If you ask people what the number one cause of death is, you will get a variety of answers. Some doctors will say it’s heart disease; others with a more global perspective will claim it’s infectious diseases; while social scists will say it’s poverty.

However, I believe the single largest killer is health illiteracy. Let me explain. While some of us are fortunate enough to will die happily in our own beds of old age, most of us will suffer from an illness,  which will cause death as it progresses. When we are ill, we seek medical attention, and this means that the terminal event for most people in the developed world will occur in a hospital, under a doctor’s care.

As we all know, there is a high chance of medical treatment being mismanaged; and the chances of something going wrong and leading to an early death because of complications increases dramatically because of health illiteracy . This maybe either because of an inability of the patient to understand what the doctor is saying; or the inability of the doctor to communicate in a fashion which the patient can understand. Inspite of having empowered patients and enlightened doctors, this is a global epidemic, and because it's so poorly recognized , the harm it causes it's considerable . This is why fighting health illiteracy on a war footing is likely to be one of the most cost-effective measures we have of healing a sick healthcare system.

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