Quality not quantity

Colin Mynott asks us to believe that wild animals are rarely ill and that promoting health (as opposed to curing illness) would reduce the total cost of caring for the elderly. I am no expert on wild animals, but I am sure the claim that they are rarely i


Colin Mynott (Letters, 27 March) asks us to believe that wild animals are rarely ill and that promoting health (as opposed to curing illness) would reduce the total cost of caring for the elderly.


I am no expert on wild animals, but I am sure the claim that they are rarely ill is incorrect. It is more likely that they are seriously ill for only a short time and only once. This is likely to lead to a fairly quick death — either by starvation or by being eaten.


He then claims that preventative healthcare would cut costs. This may be true, but I question whether it really would be.


You don’t die of old age; you will still die of an illness (or accident) however old. It would be a big assumption to believe that getting ill when you’re older necessarily leads to less expensive care or that it will reduce the number of years of infirmity.


Cost reductions would occur only if we decided to be less aggressive in our treatment of serious illness in old age.


Mr Mynott also implies that the pharmaceutical industry has a vested interest in holding back an increase in preventative healthcare. It has become fashionable to blame this sector, but I doubt whether more preventative healthcare would really have much overall financial impact on the industry, one way or the other.


However, I believe that this misses the point. The important debate should be about how obsessed society is with extending life at any cost — instead of increasing the quality of it.


Richard Beaman,
Dorset




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