Mental distress or dysfunction serious enough to be regarded as illness is a common experience. In the United Kingdom four to five million people a year consult their family doctors because of conditions such as depression and anxiety. Perhaps as many again suffer similar symptoms but either do not seek medical help, or are not identified as being psychiatrically disturbed.
The late John Vaizey posed a challenging question about the 'explosion' of health care costs in the Western World. 'Why was it seen as a problem'. he asked, 'when even more rapid growth for example in home entertainment and electronics was seen as an economic achievement?' Clearly, the answer does not depend only on the fact that Health Services in Europe are generally financed out of collective funds. In the United States, where much of medical care is still privately financed, 'cost containment' is an even more fashionable issue than in Europe.
In this report our visiting scholar. Yinong Shao, has produced a fascinating picture of the health services in China in 1988. It is particularly remarkable because even a few years ago the wealth of statistics which it contains could not have been published. First and foremost Shao's Report is an indication of the new enlightened approach by the Chinese in allowing international discussion of their internal affairs.
In England and Wales, in 1986, stroke accounted for just over 12 per cent of mortality from all causes, most of it occurring in the elderly. Undoubtedly the death toll is considerable, however, it is the burden of morbidity and disability that stroke places on the community that is the real issue for concern. Each year approximately two people out of every 1,000 will experience a first stroke of whom about two-thirds will survive requiring some form of medical intervention.
In 1986, the Medical Women’s Federation approached the Office of Health Economics with the suggestion that an overview of women's health would be timely. It was considered opportune, not simply because the MWF is celebrating its 70th Anniversary this year - furthermore, OHE itself is currently embarked on its 25th year of studying health care issues - but, more importantly, as a means of stimulating further interest in women’s health.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disabling disease which attacks the central nervous system. It claims nearly a thousand lives a year in England and Wales and is responsible for an estimated 92,000 bed-days in NHS hospitals in England. In the primary care sector, general practitioners experience some 228,000 consultations annually for MS. The precise prevalence of the disease is difficult to determine but estimates range from 50,000 to 100,000 people suffering from MS in the UK.
In purely quantitative terms, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) might not appear to have warranted the remarkable amount of attention it has attracted since 1982. By the end of October 1986 a total of just 548 cases of AIDS in the UK had been reported to the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre. This sum pales in comparison with the contemporary incidence of respiratory tuberculosis - equally a scourge of mankind that is now, and for some time has been, 'under control'.
Half a century ago little attention was paid to the risks associated with medical and surgical treatment. The hazards of sickness itself were so obvious, that the considerable risks of medical intervention were more or less taken for granted.
Since the start of the 1970s the pattern of care available to more severely 'mentally handicapped' people in Britain has undergone major changes. The passing of the 1971 Education Act and the publication of Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped (HMSO 1971) opened the way to a process of transition away from large institution based, medically orientated services towards a more disseminated, flexible and locally available system of educational and social provision.