It's easier, more effective, and cheaper to let healthy bodies fight off disease and infections than to weaken those defence mechanisms and then compensate for them medically. If we want a stable health system, we must put more resources into reducing pollution and environmental degradation and creating a way of life that keeps bodies and minds happy and in good health.
Does our belief in, and desire to have, a public universal health care system conflict with our human and individual right to have timely access to the care we need if the system is not responsive? That is the question that will soon be before the courts. Dr. Brian Day, former president of the Canadian Medical Association, is forcing the issue. He is now CEO of a private, for-profit hospital in Vancouver. We aren't supposed to have those in Canada, but we do. Everywhere. Why? Because there is a huge market demand for timely and quality health care that is not being met by the public system.
The Canadian Medical Association's 145th annual meeting is taking place this week. The mantra of the meeting is health equity, and Sir Michael Marmot, the white knight of social determinants, undoubtedly provides the human and scholarly element the issue of inequality deserves. There may be no better person to articulate Canada's barriers to better health outcomes.
Walk around the inner-city of Vancouver, and the painful reality is clear. The parks are still strewn with needles; addicts are still lying on the sidewalks in drug-induced hazes; death is everywhere. I'm hoping to be proven wrong, but I suspect that in a decade, despite Insite's zealous staff working away, the problems will remain.
Do we want a strong fence at the top of the cliff or the state-of-the-art fleet of ambulances and paramedics at the bottom? Do we want clean air or puffers and respirators for all? Should governments boast how much they are spending on the health care system, or the health of their populations -- leaving no one behind.