There is a real problem growing in our so-called health care system. One that is frightening to those of us who are involved in the delivery of health care. The problem is that although some people like to make a fuss, the fact is that health care, largely due to medical practice, is becoming more and more effective every year.
Now, you may be wondering how that is a problem. If drugs are becoming more effective and less harmful, isn’t that good? If the side-effects of drugs are being diminished, isn’t that beneficial? If surgical procedures are safer today than they were 10 or 15 years ago, isn’t that wonderful? Heart by-pass was a serious life-threatening procedure in 1980, today it is almost as routine as an appendectomy. If scientific medicine is able to develop new drugs that can relieve people’s ills for longer and longer periods of time, isn’t that progress? Shouldn’t we be thankful?
Well, in a sense it is helpful, but not in the long run. If all we are doing is relieving people’s symptoms, but not making them healthier, which the numbers seem to indicate (see below), are we really making a difference?
· 40-50% of Kiwis are physically active less than 30 minutes a day
· 28% of Kiwis are obese
· 45% are not satisfied with their work-life balance
· 40-45% of Kiwis don’t eat the recommended three servings a day of vegetables
To feel more comfortable may be immensely beneficial to some, but let’s not mistake being comfortable with the full expression of health. HEALTH-CARE is more than just the management of diseases or symptoms (Secondary Conditions).
A recent study has shown that if cancer were completely eliminated today the average life span would only be increased by less than 1.5 years. Here is the danger--medical advances may lull us into believing either that we are healthier or that being healthy is not important as long as we are disease-free. Yet, ridding the world of a disease like cancer will only increase the life span at best by 1 1/2 years and perhaps not that much if other diseases take its place as the killers.
The progress that has been made in healthcare is like the individual who cannot seem to live within a budget and is constantly using their credit card until it is “maxed out.” Then the credit card company tells them not to worry because their limit has been increased by $2,000. That is the worse thing that could happen to them. It will treat the symptom for a while longer, delaying the ultimate, which will be worse; they will have $2,000 more debt! But saddest of all, it will prevent them from addressing the real problem. Their lifestyle and budget need to be altered so they can live without running up debt.
Similarly, the greatest danger of healthcare is that it works. It relieves symptoms, treats disease and makes you feel better to the point that you think you are better. Unfortunately, it has little to do with health. Mastering bypass surgery will not encourage us to live healthier lives that may lead to healthier hearts and thus prevent the very need for the surgery. Health is the real need.
People need to know that true health comes from within, and that healthcare is more than just the ambulance at the bottom of a cliff, it is also the fence stopping you from falling over the cliff. It consists of doing those things necessary to be healthy including eating right, getting the proper rest, exercising, reducing the body’s exposure to pollutants, maintaining a positive mental attitude and keeping the communication between your brain and body free of obstructions by visiting your Chiropractor.
All of these allow you to have a full expression of HEALTH so that all of the above aspects of health care that we may need one day can be maximised.
This is what healthcare really is.
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