Operations research in public health
Andersen, Stig (1963) Operations research in public health. Indian Journal of Public Health, 7 (4). pp. 141-151.
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The spectacular progress of public health in certain parts of the world during the last century, and notably in the last half century, was a result of a cumulative interaction between a large number of factors, chief among which are two broad groups of factors: economic progress and the development of science. The gradually richer society could afford to buy more and more Public Health Services, improved public health in its turn accelerated economic progress, but also-and this is the crux in the present context-the technical means of the Public Health Services became invented and developed more or less at the time when the increasingly prosperous society could afford to apply them. The research that was needed during this process was mainly inventive and experimental. The situation in the under-developed countries by mid-twentieth century corresponds in some respects to the situation a hundred years earlier in the rich countries; economies that cannot afford to buy an adequate Public Health Service and a state of national health which hampers economic progress. However, the decisive difference is that a very large part of the inventions and experience in techniques are now available to apply in logical systems as and when the economic position permits-and forces-the authorities to develop the public health service. This relative preponderance of technical knowledge over economic capacity is the social fact which necessitates a new type of research. The research which is foremostly needed in the poor countries of the world is not inventive and experimental research; the demand of these societies is no longer for new techniques and new inventions to improve their human material to a level they can now afford; their demand is for systems composed of largely known techniques which. give the optimal utilisation of scarce economic resources. Research that satisfies this demand can be called application research or, borrowing an expression from certain other fields.
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