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I have been musing about health and well-being and what contributes to a true sense of health. I dislike using the word “health” to refer to what I am talking about as for me that word has been changed over time and is now synonymous with illness and disease, not well-being or true health. I contend that there is a gap between true health and what we focus on and address in our health care system. I believe that our health care system is so busy attending to disease, illness and trauma that it has little left in terms of attention let alone dollars and human resources to devote to wellness.

We hear that the health care system is not funded well enough. We hear that it is not sustainable. We hear that the aging population will put additional pressure on the system in the near future. We hear about technological advancements in treatment. We hear that these advancements do not reduce the demands on the system and that they may actually increase the demand. We hear about our bodies being reduced to increasingly specific parts (for the convenience of practitioners) with no one really attending to the whole and the mind, emotions and spirit are pretty well left out of the equation all together. We hear about the existing and anticipated increase in pressure on the health care system by chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity. We hear that the system feels ill-equipped to deal with these conditions.

I wonder if we could reduce the stress on the system if we were able to pay attention to the things that keep us healthy rather than devoting all our time to fixing problems. Would we not see less pressure on the system if more of us could maintain our health? We know the answer to this question. We know that if more people could remain healthy the demands on the system would decrease. 

The absurdity is that people go to the system called the health care system for advice, support and help with their health but in reality that is not where we find health. The system does not have time for people who are not suffering with a disease or who are not ill or who have not been the subject of some form of physical trauma. So people are left to fend for themselves in terms of maintaining their health.

Another absurdity relates to the fundamental structure of the system which based on a business model is not really interested in decreasing demand but rather is interested in ways to finance the ever growing services that are the economic livelihood of so many individuals and corporations. Again we do not find attention to true health in this model.

I reiterate that it is time to look beyond the health care system for our health and well-being. It is time to uncover what makes us healthy. It is time to shift the emphasis to health in the broad sense and not on disease and illness at the expense of health.


Irene McDermott © 2012