New ways to combat cancer cells and better techniques to treat coronary heart disease are nowadays likely to become front page news. This shows that we think good health is of great value. Medical science has the task (and the financial means) of giving clear answers and solutions concerning questions on health versus disease, and often on life versus death.
There are, however, disadvantages to such an allocation of responsibility. Doctors often find it difficult to admit that for many diseases there is still no effective treatment. Moreover by pumping enormous amounts of money into health care every year we might be accused of abondoning our own, individual, responsibility for maintaining good health.
All too often someone does in fact know that his lifestyle is unhealthy, but is only willing to do something about it when presented with medical evidence, such as an abnormal cardiogram or raised blood pressure. The help of a doctor is often only sought when a certain style of living has already taken its toll. Because such an attitude to health care is still the most prevalent one, even the most sophisticated medical treatment is unlikely to improve the health figures. What is worse, such an attitude has the effect of denying treatment to people whose disorder is not self-inflicted. The scarcity of financial resources means, for example, that only a few liver transplants can be performed each year.