Should progress in health be always measured in statistical terms?

Judging by the Editorial entitled “A manifesto for the world we want” (Dec 1, p 1881), with whose statements I agree, it seems that in the collective imagery of medicine the priority is focused only on what can increase or reduce global numbers favorably.

Notwithstanding, an area of medicine exists that cannot be valued in these terms and this includes people affected by rare diseases. Research and assistance on rare diseases will not affect the global numbers dramatically, but it can do so in a qualitative way in terms of advances in biomedical knowledge, efficiency of health plan design, the urgency to establish transparent and profitable international procedures of cooperation, and harmony in the innovative translation of projects to industry.

Giving priority to rare diseases in the coming years is likely to result in opportunities to improve the standards of medical care for the whole population, but the main obstacle, as said before, is posed by the danger of exclusive quantitative assessment of public health.

I declare that I have no conflicts of interest.

Emilio Roldán

Fundacion Geiser, Mendoza, Argentina

The Lancet. A manifesto for the world we want. Lancet 2012; 380: 1881.


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