Health science is the discipline of applied science which deals with human and animal health. There are two parts to health science: the study, research, and knowledge of health and the application of that knowledge to improve health, cure diseases, and understanding how humans and animals function. Research builds on the pure sciences of biology, chemistry, and physics and also social sciences (for example medical sociology).
There are a large number of health professions. The terms medicine or biomedicine, and medical doctor or M.D. refer to dominant conventional practices in the West.
There are 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 proper activity (e.g. recreational, physical occupational, speech, and respiratory). Health science includes both the study and application of preventing and curing human diseases and disorders. Medical doctors include physicians and surgeons. There are many different branches of medicine; the other health care professions also have specialties or focus on specific populations or settings of care. Public health studies the effect of environmental factors such as available health care resources on the health of the general population, often focusing on particular populations, such as mothers and children. Dietitians educate people about proper nutrition, particularly 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 field of health sciences. Counselling, hospice care, home care, nutrition, medical social work, alternative medicine, pharmacology, and toxicology are all considered part of health science.
Veterinary medicine is the health science dedicated exclusively to the care of animals. Veterinary medicine is involved in preventing and curing animal diseases and disorders, inspecting animal originated food (like milk and meat) and animal husbandry.
Contemporary Themes within Health Science
Because health science deals with human life, issues of medical ethics, an important area of ethics, arise frequently. Medical ethics includes questions on topics such as a patient’s right to privacy. Euthanasia, abortion, human cloning and genetic engineering are especially controversial issues directly related to health science.
Health science fields are as old as the human race. Humans have always been in need of solutions to various health related issues, such as childbirth. With modern technology and the backing of the pure sciences, the scientific accuracy of these fields has greatly improved. 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 backed by any scientific support.