Disease prevention, health care, and economics

Oxford University Press
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The Oxford Handbook of Health Economics, 2011, 1, pp. 555 - 577
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THE prevention of disease covers a wide range of ac tivities that can occur both within and outside the health system. In the developed countries, the increased life expectancy associated with the control of infectious and many acute diseases, has resulted in an increasing prevalence of chronic and other continuing diseases. Although environmental conditions are far more prominent as a cause of disease in the developing countries (Pruss-astun et aJ. 200S), nonetheless, these countries are also dealing with the increasing burden of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and depression, which become more prevalent with aging (WHO 2008). Many of these conditions and diseases are associated with risk factors or precursors which make them, in theory at least, preventable. Less disease and illness would deliver on one of the widely accepted health system goals of improving the health of the population.
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