Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Good health is good politics

 The Canadian newspaper's Globe and Mail, health journalist André Picard has covered the most important health issues of our time.  Says Picard, “AIDS activists taught me — and society more generally — that the choices we make about health and medicine are inherently political, and that it is more important to care for people than it is to treat their symptoms.”

Breakthroughs in medical research or technology tend to dominate headlines, but Picard writes that often-overlooked factors such as education, income, employment, housing and the environment influence health as much, if not more than medical treatments.
The evidence is clear — and has been for a long time — that the greatest impact on our health comes not from genetics or medicine, but from our socio-economic circumstances,” says Picard. “The most powerful drug we have is money,” Picard says. “If you have a decent income, it opens the door to living a good life; conversely, poverty is a debilitating condition that robs you of quality of life, and shaves years off your life expectancy.” If we want a healthy society, Picard writes we must look beyond just a health-care system that delivers state-of-the-art sickness care. An environment and culture that support healthy living is also crucial.

Dr. Hakique Virani, an Edmonton physician at the vanguard of the opioid crisis in Alberta, agrees. “If I could prescribe housing like I can medications, treating substance use disorders would be a lot easier,” says Virani. “And if I could prescribe equity, I'd put myself out of work almost completely.

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