What is medicine?

July 14, 2020

I thought about this question recently as I watched the 'Black Lives Matter' protests in the US. The question came to mind because I realised that how we see the world is dominated by the culture in which we live, or more importantly, by the dominant culture within a country. Our perception of medicine is derived from our social values and beliefs.

If we examine what medicine is, we can see that it is made up of three components, ill health, diagnosis, and treatment. No matter where we are in the world, be it the depths of the Amazon, the bronx in New York or a village in the Turkana, these three components remain.

The differences come in the diagnosis of the illness and its treatment. Both of these are governed by the knowledge of the person diagnosing and treating and his/her insights into the illness. This knowledge is governed by the worldview / cosmology of the society to which he/she belongs.