We have ignored the importance of prevention for too long
Health, health care, disease, and death are the talk of the town now, and I think this is the perfect opportunity to discuss the most important issue about health care that I have been wanting to put forward for a long time. It’s my firm belief that what we practice in the name of health care is in fact not health care; it is taking care of the sick.
We wait to become sick without any knowledge or awareness to prevent the sickness, and then the care kicks off. We go to the physician, run tests, get medicine prescribed, and then finally we may choose a lifestyle that may help us to remain healthy for the rest of the lives, but that too a medicine-dependent life.
It’s not helping us to stay healthy. This reliance on medicine has not resulted in better lives for humans. We immerse in sickness, as we decay and wait for our death. But, on the other hand, we have been hearing an age-old proverb: Prevention is better than cure. In fact, the proverb should have been: Prevention is cure.
The great inventor Thomas Alva Edison once said in 1902: “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in cause and prevention of disease.”
I take great inspiration from his saying. However, unfortunately, after a century, his prophecy hasn’t come true. The doctors have never behaved in such a manner, even in the 21st century. They, with pressure from pharmaceutical companies, have become more prone to prescribing medicines to their patients and making them dependent on drugs.
Yes, some doctors still say that prevention is always better, but their advice is more of a lip-service than truly leading the patients to a cure. In fact, the medical education they receive is designed like that -- make your patients dependent on you; they won’t come to you when they are cured of their illnesses, and the sale of drugs would stop.
At the state level also, the entire health care system is designed to take care of the sick, not preventing sickness. The knowledge on how to prevent sickness is absolutely ignored both by the system and by the physicians.
If we observe the health care campaigns around us, they are focused on how to cure illnesses, not prevent them.
Millions of people in this country don’t know that they have diabetes and how to stay away from this illness. Why have we failed to impart the knowledge among the masses about this disease? The reason is simple -- the sale of insulin and other diabetic drugs would reduce. We have wanted a better life for humans; we always wanted a dependent life for them for the sake of business.
On our part, we know that our behaviour and lifestyle make us prone to various kinds of illnesses that are chronic, complex, lifelong, life-shortening -- all of which are very expensive to treat. Knowing almost everything, we keep thriving on food, luxury, and convenience -- a life without any proper physical exercise to keep us fit, and without any proper diet that may keep us away from diseases.
When do we go to hospitals? When we are ill. We don’t want to do some hard work that may keep us away from hospitals. The hospitals, on the other hand, do run campaigns or disseminate any knowledge about how not to be sick. No, they don’t. They need us to become sick and pay them handsomely.
The curriculum in medical education has very little on nutrition. My experience says physicians have very little knowledge of nutrition. When we go to them for an illness, they only advise us what not to eat. That’s it.
But there’s no collective awareness among the physicians or medical institutions about food and nutrition. If they had, they would have run huge campaigns regarding what to eat and what not to eat.
Humans, during their childhoods, do experience some physical exercise in schools. But that doesn’t make them believe that physical exercise is a must-do for the rest of their lives.
Yoga is one great option for illness-prevention. Yoga is not very well-accepted by the practicing physicians across the world, who usually graduate out of the traditional medical institutions. Most of the physicians do not have any knowledge of yoga.
They think yoga is not a science, and they are very nonchalant about the results that yoga has borne.
Well, yoga is a psychosomatic exercise that connects the human body with the mind. “Psychosomatic”? OK, let me quote from an article: ‘The term psychosomatic refers to real physical symptoms that arise from or are influenced by the mind and emotions rather than a specific organic cause in the body (such as an injury or infection).”
The yogic researchers believe that most of our illnesses originate from mental or emotional stresses. This leads to depression.
We may not even know when we’re depressed. But the depression weakens our immune system and leads to many physical illnesses.
However, it’s heartening to see that many physicians in the US, China, and Japan have turned to treat their patients with physical exercise and meditation, and they have found extraordinary results. Their patients are coming out of their illnesses.
In order to make health care truly health care and not merely sick care, we need to strike at the root to which we have been giving a blind eye, just because we have made our health care system a money-making one.
We expect our physicians and medical institutions will rise up to the occasion, and start acting in real health care. l
Ekram Kabir is a story-teller. His other works can be found on ekramkabir.com.