We currently have an ‘Illness’ System we wrongly call the Health Care System.
Our taxes largely fund this system and yet it is highly over-burdened, inefficient and not really about ‘health’ at all. It is focused on ‘managing’ illness – mopping up the mess, after the fact.
As an Allied Health Care Professional who has worked in this system for the last two decades I can attest to the real determinants of Health based on extensive experience assisting a multitude of patients to find their way back to a fulfilling life.
VERY rarely do I see anyone whose health issues are not related to lifestyle and even more rarely are these lifestyle factors genuinely within the person’s total control.
Statistics bear out the claim that the majority of the cases tying up the health dollars are Chronic Diseases which could easily be prevented by changes to diet, physical activity levels, avoiding exposure to toxins and preventing stresses from a poor work:life balance.
The Health Promotion Departments in Government keep churning out piles of glossy brochures, posters and fancy TV and newspaper ads advising us of the ‘right way to live’ and yet no-one seems capable of stopping to ponder the reasons why the majority of people don’t/can’t adopt healthy lifestyles.
As the drug companies ever-expand their market-places with the average GP apparently incapable or unwilling to see through the propaganda that masquerades as ‘research’, we, the citizens of this proud Nation are subjected to a fait accompli that we WILL one day be ill and require surgical or drug therapy. This is an outright lie and need not be the case.
In a Nation that placed the health and welfare of its citizens as the priority (for without your health what DO you have) we would rapidly see the alleviation of many social and economic issues, with a cascade of flow-on positive outcomes.
Currently the Federal Government funds a small number of visits to an Allied Health Professional who can give a person Preventive/Lifestyle Advice (dietitians, podiatrists, exercise physiologists, physiotherapists), but only AFTER the person has been diagnosed by their GP to be suffering a Chronic Condition. This is still ‘after the fact’ and leaves the Allied Health Professional largely in the role of ‘managing’ the disease in someone whose body has already likely crossed a threshold of no return. We need to intervene MUCH earlier to avoid the years of morbidity we’re currently experiencing.
What is needed is a gradually introduced Health System that rewards positive lifestyle choices (possibly via reduced Health Insurance fees or priorities for care), but this System must be gradually introduced so as not to disadvantage those people who are already victims of the ‘old ways’ and it must include requirements for all policy (Government and Corporate) to filter through a rigorous Health Impact Assessment to determine effect on the relevant determinants of a person’s ability to implement positive lifestyle choices.
For example, you couldn’t punish a person for not being able to maintain a healthy weight (by charging them higher Health Insurance Premiums) if you simultaneously have a system that requires a person commit 90% of their waking life to commuting and working just to pay off their mortgage (especially if their work location does not provide ample opportunity for physical activity and tasty, healthy food choices).
An intensive analysis of all existing legislation, to determine its health impact is urgently needed.
What are some possible examples of these determinants of health?
Clean, safe air and water; a secure social environment; safe, healthy, natural food that is not contaminated with things like methyl bromide (this is a pesticide treatment AQIS does on all imported food and it has been clearly associated with neural disorders like Motor Neuron Disease); opportunity for safe, enjoyable physical activity (this includes active transport like cycling and walking to be made a real and safe possibility); getting serious on the drug problem (we have an epidemic of mental illness and suicide in our youth); a criminal justice system that focuses on rehabilitation (especially for youth); taking control of the corporate culture that currently requires excessive work hours, unhealthy and destructive competitiveness where there could, instead, be cooperative collaboration and a focus on a mutual goal of improvement for all and a requirement that corporations exist in the public interest (incidentally the QLD debate about daylight savings would be resolved by requiring employers to allow flexible work hours, remote log-ins and to retain a larger work-force with each person working less total hours (tax incentives would be an early way to encourage this change)); restoring a sense of involvement in our political system via Citizen-Initiated Referenda; restoring a sense of security in our money system by placing control of our Reserve Bank in the hands of the people in a transparent system……..I think you get the idea…..your suggestions and debate are welcome………
Jane E Kugelman B.Sc., Post-Grad. Dip. (Health Promotion) AEP