Health science is the discipline of applied science that deals with human and animal health. There are two components to the health sciences: the study, research and knowledge of health and the application of that knowledge to improve health, cure disease and understand how humans and animals function. Research is based on the pure sciences of biology, chemistry and physics and also on the social sciences (for example, medical sociology).
There are a large number of health professions. The terms “medicine or biomedicine” and “physician” or “BMD” refer to the dominant conventional practices in the West.
There is a wide range of traditional areas of health science. The most common areas are: medicine, nursing, midwifery, and various forms of therapy to supplement the healing process and restore appropriate activity (e.g., recreational, physical, occupational, and respiratory). The health sciences include both the study and application of the prevention and cure of human diseases and disorders. Physicians include physicians and surgeons. There are many different branches of medicine; other health professions also have specialties or focus on specific populations or health care settings. Public health studies the effect of environmental factors such as available health care resources on the health of the general population, often focusing on specific populations, such as mothers and children. Dietitians educate people about adequate nutrition, particularly the specific dietary needs of populations such as people with diabetes, breastfeeding women and people with celiac disease. Other less common medical areas include first aid and triage.
Dental health has grown in importance in recent decades, making dentistry a major area of the health sciences. Counselling, palliative care, home care, nutrition, medical social work, alternative medicine, pharmacology and toxicology are all considered part of the health sciences.
Veterinary medicine is the health science devoted exclusively to the care of animals. Veterinary medicine is involved in the prevention and cure of animal diseases and disorders, by inspecting food derived from animals (such as milk and meat) and animal husbandry.
Contemporary themes in health sciences
Because health science deals with human life, problems of medical ethics, an important area of ethics, frequently arise. Medical ethics includes questions about such matters as the patient’s right to privacy. Euthanasia, abortion, human cloning and genetic engineering are particularly controversial issues directly related to the health sciences.
The fields of health science are as old as the human race. Humans have always needed solutions to a variety of health-related issues, such as childbirth. With modern technology and the support of pure science, the scientific accuracy of these fields has improved dramatically. Nevertheless, many cultures have and continue to use various herbs and other culturally specific solutions to help solve health problems. These solutions may or may not be supported by scientific support.