Written by Adrian Batten
Genetic breakthrough coming thick and fast is great news, of course. Unfortunately it will be another ten years or so before the New Medicine kicks in. Even then, will you and I be able to afford it when it does? Someone’s got to pay for it all, and we pretty much know who that’s going to be.
Best not get sick.
I don’t joke. We need to protect ourselves and the best way of doing that is by not getting sick if we can possibly avoid it. The bad news is that more and more of us are suffering from complex, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and mental illness, along with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions are life style or wear and tear diseases, which means they can be delayed or even avoided if we knew how.
The practice of medicine today is not going to be much help to us in preventing this, scenario, rigged as it is toward acute care. That is to say the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness requiring urgent short-term attention. Today physicians apply specific prescribed treatment of surgery or drugs, aimed to treating the immediate problem. The aim is to keep us alive in the short term at any cost. And, put like that, who’s going to argue? The concern, however, goes a bit further than that. We’ve known for many years this interventionist approach just doesn’t work. We pay an increasingly unacceptable cost for being patched up like this, our health continues compromised and no cure is effected.
Instead, what we get is “managed chronic disease”, skilled physicians and technicians, along with our hospitals supported every step off the way by the drug majors and medical insurers, presiding over chronic decline, not cure.