Sunday, April 20, 2008

Health in the hands of the people

Not your usual. No, I am not discussing the very low annual health budget (which is only 2% of our annual budget!), brain drain, overworked and underpaid health workers, the skewed priorities of our politicians, or the corruption that debilitated the healthcare in this country. For I bet my right, and even left arm, my fellow health care workers will discuss these in their own post.

In this time where the Philippine healthcare system is being challenged with the same issues, we must come up with solutions dealing with what we have, what we can do and where we are right now.

Primary Health Care. The focus on curative more than the preventive aspect of health is one of the most important but less discussed issue in a system like ours. Even in medical school, preventive medicine is not given as much as importance as the other major specialties. In return, the laymen have come to practice the same thing – depending on the damn pills for everything.

Primary care is anything that focuses on the preventive aspect of a disease. The 10 leading causes of mortality and morbidity in this country are mostly preventable and infectious. Now, if primary care is advocated and vigilantly taught to our countrymen, these data might just change. If only, half of those who smoke right now stop completely, the rate of cardiovascular disease in this country will decrease in due time.

Image from hapi naples

Health in the hands of the people. With politician like ours who don’t give a shit about the health sector, whose definition of healthcare amounts to medical missions prior to election, we have to empower the people. Make them realize that their own health is their responsibility. It is neither the government’s responsibility (even though rightfully, it should) nor their doctor’s responsibility.

Laymen should be taught, first and foremost, that their most common illness – acute gastroenteritis, pneumonia, hypertension, upper respiratory tract infection, to name a few, are all preventable. Health is reachable and it is cheaper if you start early.

Healthy Lifestyle. A doctor cannot overemphasize the importance of healthy lifestyle. Proper diet, moderate alcohol intake, no smoking, exercise. This entails little, if not zero, monetary investment at all. Every one can do this. The total return, patients have to worry less about money for hospitalization of some common but preventable diseases. In cases like hypertension, if only it is detected early, eating habits are corrected, less and less people would be needing maintenance medication.

The old adage an ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure won’t last for years if it wasn’t true. Healthy lifestyle will definitely lead to healthier Filipinos. Healtheir Filipinos lead to a healthy country, well, hopefully.

More importantly, hospitals will also be de-clogged of patients seeking acute care. This just might do the trick in lessening the work of our underpaid health workers.

I know, I know, most of you are thinking this is like an ideal but far-fetched solution. But it will do in a situation like ours where we always end up in dead end. It might take awhile to see it's effect, but it will do. At least in the rural areas who are most deprived of the health services.

Seek care early. Finally, in case primary care doesn’t work, especially for more acute illnesses, please, please, seek secondary care EARLY. Don’t wait for a 3 cm breast mass to grow up to 10 cms with lymph nodes to go with it. Money is not, and should not, rule you when to seek medical care. Besides, will you ever have enough if your disease is growing proportionally with your medical needs? Really. Remember, God always provides.


This is my entry for the 6th editon of The Blog Rounds, which this blog is hosting for this week.


Martin D. Bautista, M.D. said...

Doc MC, I posted my contribution. Salamat for hosting this round.

J.A. said...

Back to the basics... I think it is simple yet workable, not at all far-fetched although it may be a little difficult to change certain belief systems people have already developed.