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Medical Care and Health Improvement: The Critical Link

Julio Frenk, MD, MPH, PhD
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Center on Health and the Economy; Mexican Health Foundation; Mexico City, Mexico Requests for Reprints: Julio Frenk, MD, MPH, PhD, Fundacion Mexicana para la Salud, Periferico Sur 4809, Mexico, D.F. 14610, Mexico.

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1998;129(5):419-420. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-129-5-199809010-00014
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What is the contribution of medical care to health improvement? For decades, this question has occupied and preoccupied countless professionals, researchers, politicians, and members of the public. Health care systems serve many secondary purposes, such as creating jobs or generating profits, but most people would agree that services should be primarily a means toward the end of improved health. However, there is sharp disagreement about the strength of this relation compared with other factors that determine health status. The implications of this discrepancy go beyond academic interest to include key policy matters.

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