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Days Gone By – Adapting to a New Reality in Health and Wellness

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Success: A challenge to change.

Western medical systems, based on hospitals, highly skilled professionals, and high-tech equipment, with little concern for patients and caregivers, have been remarkably successful. In fact, science and technology continue to revolutionize healthcare: who would argue that many infectious diseases have been brought under control, maternal health (maternal/neonatal mortality) has improved, and vaccine development has contained the widespread virus epidemic.

However, as our population ages and suffers more from long-term diseases such as diabetes, cancer, treatment/care for Alzheimer’s and coronary heart disease, it cannot be easily treated with a diagnostic and control system designed to combat these diseases before half a century ago Century.

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The basic problem in all wealthy countries is that the diseases have changed, but the health services have not really. The health problems of the early 21st century are not the same as they were in the mid-20th century – when today’s western health care systems emerged.

They require home, community and hospital services and, most importantly, patient and caregiver involvement.

Greater impact on disease than smoking

As reported in 2010, an analysis (of Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data from 1993 to 2008 on 3.5 million adults) by researchers at Columbia University and the City College of New York showed that obesity now has a greater impact on disease had, while smoking had a greater impact on deaths. Why? The number of adult smokers decreased by 18.5 percent during that time, while the proportion of overweight Americans increased by 85 percent.

Findings like these account for an increasing proportion of the cost of illness and healthcare in wealthier countries today.

Of course, attempts are being made to make changes, as last year’s much-noticed health care reform shows. But reimbursement systems reinforce the old model, institutions and professional training are largely geared towards it, commercial interests encourage it, and the public sees hospitals as the bedrock of healthcare.

Terrible cost of the clinic; Even more afraid of change

As we have seen, resource issues are the biggest challenge. What should someone who can’t afford the system but is afraid to approach (generally) more affordable alternative or complementary medical techniques do?

The answer seems to lie in educating health workers on wellness at grassroots level and adopting technologies that are “transferable in education and practice.” Today, many aspiring health professionals are deeply interested in global health and eager to experience and learn from cultures and countries that are not constrained by our health histories.

Competence, professionalism and cooperation in holistic healthcare

For example, a small but vibrant educational institution in the Pacific Northwest educates people differently, creates new perspectives, engages families and communities, and focuses more on promoting health than just fighting disease. The American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) promotes excellence, professionalism, and collaboration in holistic healthcare. Graduates build a holistic foundation for personal healthcare and rely on finding ways to use, preserve and share knowledge in natural medicine to care for patients. ACHS students gain the deep expertise that will help them become the healthcare professionals we need for the 21st century.

And governments can do much more to support efforts like this, just as the US State Department relies on a “3-D” philosophy to advance its mission: defense, diplomacy, and development. Governments can encourage the exchange of ideas and people, and help health and wellness workers from richer countries work in poorer countries. In doing so, they learn the subtitles of cultural and social health practice for themselves while helping to pay off a debt for the many professionals who have migrated to richer countries. As the Department of Defense has shown, this can be a win-win situation that will benefit us all. Security can breed peace, which can lead to even greater sustainable development.

As Lord Nigel Crisp, former chief executive of the NHS and secretary to the Department of Health in England, states in his new book Turning the World Upside Down: The Search for Global Health in the 21st Century: “When the old ways don’t work, we are ready to look outside the mainstream for new ideas? Or are we satisfied with sticking to professional structures and forms of work that were created 50 years ago?”

Thanks to Randy Eady

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