Health, how it is defined and how it is maintained, is a reflection of the dominant ideology in a certain society. The medical system of Western countries, including Australia, is based on the biomedical model of health or biomedicine. According to Lord Nigel Crisp, who is a global health reform advocate, former Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) in United Kingdom (UK) and previous Permanent Secretary of the UK Department of Health, Western scientific medicine and the health systems based on them have exhibited spectacular success in improving health over the last century and it has come to dominate medical thinking, habits and institutions globally. It also served as the guide for health regulating bodies including the World Health Organization, health care professional associations and pharmaceutical companies. He argued, however, that presently Western scientific medicine is no longer capable of solely managing the health demands of peoples in both the industrialised and developing countries. There is a need to adapt and absorb new ideas to be able to meet the demands of the twenty first century(Marble, 2010). In order to get a better understanding of the current health system in Western societies this paper attempts to take a closer look at the development of scientific medicine as the foundation of modern medical practice. In addition to the overview of biomedicine, a few of the challenges to its discourse will also be presented throughout the discussion.
The term biomedicine is used to describe scientific medicine which is prominent in Western societies. To get a better grasp of this concept, Baronov (2008) presented the following interrelated views which account for biomedicine’s ongoing development. Firstly, from an empirical perspective, biomedicine is described as a scientific enterprise and is seen as a product of scientific knowledge. The second outlook is interpretive which means that biomedicine is depicted as a symbolic-cultural expression wherein the principle of scientific objectivity obscures an ideological agenda. Lastly, biomedicine is represented in the conceptual perspective as an expression of social influence that defines the framework of power and privilege within the capitalist society.
The Enlightenment during the eighteenth century paved the way for the development of modern medicine. It was during this period when evidence and theories were backed up by scholarly observations and ideas are likewise confirmed rationally through experiments (A.-M. Barry & Yuill, 2008). A lot of the breakthroughs in treating diseases are brought about by scientific methodology. Society greatly benefited from the progressive outcomes of biomedicine such as, to name a few, the development of vaccinations, infection control, surgery, organ transplants, advanced monitoring techniques like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the advent of the human genome project.
The context of health as a result of scientific...