Fire prevention: the lessons we can learn | OUPblog

 Figure 1. Home fires data from the  National Fire Protection Association . Recreated by the author, used with permission.

Figure 1. Home fires data from the National Fire Protection Association. Recreated by the author, used with permission.

The United States spends more on health than any other economically comparable country, yet sees a consistently mediocre return on this investment. This could be because the United States invests overwhelmingly in medicine and curative care, at the expense of the social, economic, and environmental determinants of health—factors like quality education and housing, the safety of our air and water, and the nutritional content of our food. A deeper investment in contextual factors like these can help create healthy societies and prevent disease before it occurs. However, in making the case for this investment, it is important to make clear that a shift towards stopping disease before it starts does not mean pulling resources away from doctors and hospitals—our first line of defense when disease strikes. We need only look at the history of fire prevention in the United States to see how prevention does not have to come at the expense of cure. The issue of fire prevention has been much in the news lately, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in the United Kingdom. Despite the occurrence of such tragedies, however, the history of fire prevention in the United States has largely been an encouraging story, and instructive for the prevention vs cure debate. Over the years, we have managed to dramatically reduce fires, while at the same time maintaining a robust investment in the women and men who put them out when they happen.

Read full article in OUPblogA version of this post was originally published on Fortune.