Monday, March 05, 2012

Lifestyle Diseases 18: Addressing NCDs via Preventive Healthcare

Mainly lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) can be addressed via change in lifestyle and hence, preventive healthcare, not curative. Preventive approach shifts the burden of healthcare from the government to the individuals themselves, their households and civil society organizations (health and wellness groups, sports clubs, medical and nutrition associations, etc.). Whereas curative approach is mainly throwing more money, ie tax money, to problems that are more often than not, self-inflicted.

My cardiologist friend, Dr. Tony Leachon, has written several articles about NCDs posted in this blog. See for instance,

Below are some powerpoint slides he had made and presented in his talks. These are good supplementary materials and visuals to the DOH Presentation on smoking and tobacco tax hike, Tobacco Tax 7: DOH on NCDs and Tax Hike. A number of his slides were also used in the said DOH presentation.

I like the title, Shifting to Preventive Healthcare. The three risk factors are obviously lifestyle related -- high tobacco use, low intake of fruits and vegetables (more fried meat, etc.) and less physical activity (more couch potato in front of a computer or tv, etc.).

Many Asian economies are indeed getting wealthier. The rising problem of the people is that they are eating more expensive, more sweet and more fatty food and drinks like more soda, more ice cream. The result is more diabetes, more obesity. People work hard and they eat and party hard too.

My beef about these analysis by Dr. Antonio Dans, DOH, WHO and other known health analysts is that there is little or zero mention about personal responsibility aspect of healthcare. It is very often easy to blame the tobacco companies, the soda/softdrink/beer companies, the junk food manufacturers, the fastfood shops, the heavy ads in tv of these products, and so on. But somehow we have to look inwards and see what we individuals, parents and guardians do, to prevent children not to get addicted to junk food, softdrinks and sedentary life too early.

Articles like these by Dr. Leachon and Dr. Dans, campaigns by the DOH and WHO, the various health professional organizations, are helpful in reminding people again and again, good healthcare rests first and foremost in their own hands, not in government. They do not need the DOH and WHO to realize that having a clean house, a clean environment, washing hands properly before eating, drinking plenty of water and other liquid, having more vegetables and/or fruits everyday, among others, are simple but highly effective steps towards better health. More than cheaper or free medicines, more than cheaper hospitalization and free PhilHealth card.

Cheaper or free medicines are effective for infectious and communicable diseases, for pediatric diseases, for genetic and hereditary diseases. And even if those cheaper medicines -- will the government abolish taxes on medicines please? -- are made available for these illnesses, preventive healthcare still play a big and important role, at least not to exacerbate existing diseases.

See also:
Lifestyle Diseases 1: Obesity, February 04, 2011
Lifestyle Diseases 2: Killer diseases in the Philippines, March 16, 2011
Lifestyle Diseases 3: Causes of Mortality in the Philippines, August 10, 2011
Lifestyle Diseases 4: The UN on NCDs, September 24, 2011
Lifestyle Diseases 5: NCDs Global Picture, September 30, 2011

Lifestyle Diseases 17: On Cancer, COPD and NCD Risk Factors, March 05, 2012

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