Sunday, September 04, 2005

Why our general health is getting worse

"One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine."
- Sir William Osler, Aphorisms from his Bedside Teachings (1961) p.105

Osler, an icon of the medical community, is not clear in this quote what he means by educating the masses "not to take medicine." He didn't mean that ill people should not take prescribed medications.

He meant that people should be educated about what they can do to make their bodies healthy enough that they will be protected from illnesses. We don't do that enough.

Pharmaceutical companies drill their customers and potential customers daily on television about why they need to take prescription and over-the-counter drugs for any problem they have. They do not, ever, teach anyone how to live in a healthy way so that they will not require drugs. Nor, oddly enough, do health insurance companies.

We must take that responsibility ourselves. Governments don't teach it either because they do not directly control curriculum in schools. Schools don't teach it, in general, because they are required to teach too much other curriculum that such "options" as teaching good health methods and techniques are cast aside, if they are ever considered.

We know what people must do to be healthy. We know as a society. What we are not doing is teaching this to those who don't know, the ones who get sick and who develop debilitating illnesses.

Teaching good health methods and habits should be a high priority in a society that is becoming progressively dependent on drugs and medical doctors.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' working to teach people how to look after their health so they have a better chance at finding happiness.
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