Health and illness are a universal reality, but manifest as individual experiences, impacted and filtered by religion, race, age, gender, ethnicity, social status and other factors. Through these lenses, we are able to document, reconstruct and understand the reality of multitudes and not merely the exceptional few for whom documentation survives.
On a collective level, past epidemics have had a major impact on human society and the course of history. As the history of medicine draws a spotlight on shared human experiences around health, we can discern, and then explain, deep processes that transcend borders, continents and time.
The drive to preserve health and cure illness has led to enormously diverse approaches, not only over time but also within individual countries in any given period. Different groups and classes of patients have patronized varying types of medical practitioners, shaping their own concepts of health and illness.
Considering the present-day reality, in which the quality, cost and accessibility of health services are globally debated issues, it is important to understand the decisions and factors that shaped the current array of medical options over time, including the paths not taken.
The 2021 Dan David Prize in the Past Time Dimension will be awarded to an outstanding individual or organization making an ongoing, groundbreaking contribution to the history of health and medicine through research and education, including through interdisciplinary exploration and impact on public and scientific discourse.