"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Visions of a better healthcare contd.

This series of blog posts on healthcare is really about the healing of suffering. It is about healing the individual, healing the medical profession and about the contribution that the healthcare profession can make towards healing the world.

It is also about finding the Wounded Healer in our healthcare system; and about infusing that healthcare with spirit. Indeed an understanding of the former should assist a greater appreciation of the latter.

There is a new era of spiritual awakening in the context of pastoral care, which I have written about elsewhere. Medicine is also at the dawn of a new understanding of consciousness. While such changes are for the moment only evident in a few pockets of holistic excellence across America, even less in the UK, progress in this interesting and exciting field is being fuelled by the much more rapid dissemination of information now possible through that most wonderful of tools when used responsibly and with selective discernment, the worldwide web!

Sadly these exciting developments in holistic medicine are yet to be embraced universally in spite of the growing mass of empirical evidence in their support. I also understand that some may find it difficult to share this excitement when tens of millions of American do not have access to free basic healthcare, when so many physicians are disillusioned with their work and when morale within the profession is probably at an all time low. When people are preoccupied not with the state of medical advances but with how they can possibly afford to pay for even basic treatment, perhaps urgent treatment for a sick child, it may seem hopelessly inappropriate to suggest that existing healthcare needs to regain its soul, to suggest that a new spirituality needs to infuse the healthcare profession.

Now I know I am touching on a controversial topic here, but as I watched President Obama make his inaugural speech to the American nation early in 2009, I was concerned. ‘We will restore science to its rightful place,’ he said, ‘and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its costs.’ With the emphasis on technology there was no recognition of the need to support an integrated healthcare. Perhaps that was neither the appropriate time nor occasion to raise such issues. But it may be that Obama’s two aims for healthcare are incompatible. Ever more complex drug regimes and technological advances are alone unlikely to lower the costs of healthcare. Also hurling more money at the present healthcare system seems to me like handing out more pills to deal with the side effect of a prescribed drug, rather than looking for a more appropriate initial treatment without that unwanted reaction.

Let me stress, by contrast, that the healing power of the spirit is free and wholesome, with no unwanted side effects. And healthcare is certainly not a commodity to take or leave. The quality of its provision should not depend on the wealth of an individual.

It is a matter of religious compassion and social justice that a basic healthcare should be freely available for all as a human right, not only for fellow citizens but also for all populations across the world.

As we work towards a more integrated and less expensive health system, is it too much to hope that the money saved could be redirected to help to provide basic medical needs across the globe in the fight to combat malaria, AIDS and the other crippling health concerns of so many who are very much less fortunate than ourselves?

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