The Politics of Healthcare

Virtually every day, the media, government officials, hospital administrators, etc. remind the public about the desperate state of the healthcare system in Canada. Inadequate financial resources to fund the needs of an aging population, lack of specialists, long surgical waiting lists and high drug and equipment costs are examples cited about how this has become a national crisis. Recently, the B.C. Liberal government has announced that they will de-insure the services of supplementary healthcare practitioners such as naturopathic physicians, chiropractors, massage therapists and physiotherapists in order to save some money. This move shows the value the government places on non-drug, non-surgical, complimentary healthcare and reinforces the reality of a tiered medical system. Proposed changes to the Drug Pharmacare program will undoubtedly affect many who regularly use prescription drugs such as seniors and people suffering from chronic illness. So how did it get to this point where the once internationally respected Canadian healthcare model is now barely functional?

There is an old saying that goes like this “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you got”. Perhaps it is time to change the paradigm in which the system is being operated. Presently, we use a reactive healthcare system. The system begins to work when a person is already ill. Doctors and nurses initiate tests and examinations, which ultimately lead to treatment. If the problem is simple e.g. a broken arm then the examination (an X-ray) and treatment (casting) is straightforward and not too costly. This is where high tech, conventional medicine shines. But if for example a person suffers from diabetes, asthma, heart disease, cancer, or one of the many other several thousand chronic degenerative conditions, the solution is not so simple. Typically, years of disease management that requires numerous expensive tests and costly drug and surgical therapies will be necessary. These conditions will need tens or hundreds of thousand of dollars to manage with no expectation of a cure at this time.

But what if we introduce a proactive healthcare model where self-responsibility is promoted and the system begins to work before a person becomes ill? Wellness would be the goal and prevention of disease the main task. Ideally, healthcare professionals from all disciplines would work together in an integrated manner utilizing their combined areas of expertise. They would educate and council the public on the basic principle of good health e.g. nutritious eating, exercise, stress management, risk management, environmental health etc. Treatment would be employed when necessary. We as a culture cannot expect good health when the food, air and water supply is adulterated and contaminated to the extent that it is with chemical by products eventually finding their way into our bodies. Obesity is rampant, as exercise is devoid and being sedentary is the new way of life with remote controls for everything. Half the world is on antidepressants, tranquilizers and sedatives because of personal, family and global stresses, which lead to unhappiness, fear, anger, worry and guilt. Mental health is at an all time low.

We need to begin to treat the cause of illness not the symptoms. The cause of illness is not difficult to understand when you understand the laws of physiology and nature. The body and the planet continually strive to remain in harmonious balance in order to function optimally. Man becomes ill when those laws are broken repetitively and balance can no longer be maintained. Some drug corporations do not care if you understand these laws as they sell products to address mostly the symptoms of disease. Health comes from the farm not the pharmacy.

If we as a society can begin to educate our youth on these principles and seriously deal with the cause of illness, the benefits will show themselves over a matter of time. Patience will be required. Not only will the population be healthier but also the need for surgery, drug therapy, and crisis intervention will be lessened and a lot of resources saved.

I am not naïve. I do appreciate the benefits of modern technology and medicine. I understand the realities of genetics, aging, viruses and disharmony between differing medical philosophies but I also understand where we are headed. The present system will not change overnight but something does need to change. This is one opinion.


Copyright © 2003 by Dr. Garrett G. Swetlikoff