Is Cure Better than Prevention

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I spoke to an endocrinologist-diabetologist once and told him that I had been able to stop taking anti-diabetic medicine by eating more fruits and vegetables, minimizing cereals and fats and by eating the right foods at the right time. He took it as an insult to modern medicine and fumed, “Modern medicine has increased the life span of people, especially in degenerative diseases like diabetes. Do you know that if you stopped taking medicines you would have to eat more than a quarter kg. of vegetables a day? So how long do you think you can avoid medicines?” I calmed him down saying that I was not totally against allopathic medicine – there is no disputing its great contributions – in fact the home glucometer produced by modern technology helped me check the effects of my new lifestyle and diet. But why cannot I be in charge of my health and take medicines only if I really need to – and why can’t people – especially children and youth – be encouraged to make an informed choice?

80% of illnesses today can be prevented or treated at home without popping pills or getting poked. Yet we do not educate our children how they can build their immunity – especially in the context of the attractively packaged and marketed foods, non-foods and chemicals that they are exposed to today. Medical colleges do not include the discipline of immunity building in their curriculum – except for a section on vaccinations and another on community health and hygiene. It’s a stark reality today that the more developed a country, the more sick its population, which means the more it’s government spends on public health, and this translates into greater dependence of its citizens on external forces to remain healthy and well. Hence everybody spends more on medicine, doctors and hospital care - voluntarily albeit grudgingly.

Cure is certainly better than prevention for the medical industry and also for the Governments which can add up all medical costs to its GDP. We too are happy that modern science and technology helps us get cured. Prevention is not good for business because then the spending on health care will go down and hence profits will go down. The only people who would gain in such a scenario will be farmers and organic produce vendors, since such fresh foods will be a major requirement for people to build immunity and prevent ill health. Problems may arise at the root level or at the endof- branch level. Constantly dealing with the end-ofbranch problems is like mopping the floor forever, as Dr. Mira Shiva says in her article on Public Health in this issue. To turn off the tap that is letting the problems flow in, we need to work - through education, advocacy, public interest litigation and in whatever ways we can. This issue of Eternal Bhoomi brings you the ground breaking work of several people that can help us start with ourselves – by taking charge of our own health and wellness.