Healthcare Nation

By Sumer Dene

Change is constant, and culture is changing. A society’s principles and policies represent a nation’s way of life. We all have freedom of choice, the natural rights inherent to all. According to the United Nations, Human rights include the right to life, freedom, liberty, work, education and even to enjoy the arts. However, in our Democracy, do we have the right to truth and transparency in public and private institution? What is the price placed on quality of life and well-being?

A ‘conscious corporation’ succeeds by recognizing a need in society and satisfying that need in the most effective, responsible way. Consumer expectations evolve as we empower each other and find true purpose for the greater good. In the media age, there is no gap between corporation and consumer and no limit to how far we can go together. There is no room left for egos and agendas as we face fundamental issues across the nation, within industries and throughout humanity. Difficulties stem from misunderstanding of ourselves and others, misleading claims in media and advertisements, and insufficient research sponsored by parties of interest. We are inundated with information as we search for innovative ways to discover life-changing medicine, communicate shared value systems, and allocate resources efficiently. If people are confused and distracted, it’s far more difficult to think critically and make imperative, conscientious decisions. Marketing is everything. How something is presented to you determines what you see.

A study from BBC indicates pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing drugs, in some cases twice as much, than they do on developing them. BBC concludes profit margins are often much larger than money spent on research. Furthermore, companies have been faced with multi-billion dollar fines for malpractice and misbranding unsafe drugs. According to Reuters, an international news agency, “U.S. prices for the world’s 20 top-selling medicines are, on average, three times higher than in Britain.” In America, prescription costs are based on economic incentive and marketable value. Although, by being innovators and leader in research and technology, we help subsidize the rest of the world’s drug costs. The FDA works closely with pharmaceutical companies to determine which drugs can be marketed to the public. In recent years, FDA regulations are not as rigorously regulated. Competition and variety in a free market, in theory, would help lower prices of medication and encourage Americans to be more involved with their health. However, Consumers pay for brand names, not the effectiveness of drugs and the strained relationship between patients and healthcare providers lead to an overmedicated, mismanaged system.

America spends the most per capita and GDP on healthcare, yet has less than average life expectancy rates and higher rates of chronic conditions, obesity, and infant mortality. The U.S. Government mandates outdated dietary guidelines that advise a low-fat diet, which is linked to poor mental health, hormonal imbalances, inflammation and higher risks of insulin resistance and diabetes. The Food and Drug Administration allows companies to market processed, chemically engineered food that is highly addictive and unhealthy, not to mention cheap to produce. A recent study at the 2018 Experimental Biology conference examined the biochemical effects of artificial sweeteners on the body.

Data suggests artificial sweeteners alter how the body ‘processes fat and obtains energy.’ Top researchers at the Center for Science in the Public Interest agree, “Artificial colors pose risks of cancer, allergies and hyperactivity in children and should be banned.” Factory-farmed animals are cramped in small cages and injected with artificial hormones and antibiotics. If one animal becomes sick, they all are treated with antibiotics in order to reduce need for individual care. However, unnecessary use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic-resistant organisms that propagate in dangerous numbers and enter the food supply. In the US National Library of Medicine, researchers conclude Antibiotic resistance is an emerging public health crisis and the effect on human health is yet to be determined. Experts agree, “Given divergent stakeholder interests and inadequate research to date, public policy discussions of this issue are often contentious and highly polarized.”

A change of perspective begins with grassroots effort. The goal is to spread knowledge and build a connection that links individuals, international policy and industry to global needs. Consumers want dedicated research, consistency and transparency in public and private industry as well as honest, sustainable product development. After all, people are far more important than profit, and we’re all people looking to make a difference while making a living.

Academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and industry lead the way to a future of preventative medicine, technological development, educational programs, and breakthroughs in research. Organizations can change culture through collaboration and honest communication. They can create a value system that measures value and outcome on a large-scale by setting a criteria and specific goals. Professionals from many backgrounds could develop teams to measure progress and cost-effectiveness, working together is simple when you speak a universal language.

For the holiday season, I encourage you to continue to be active in festive activities and involved with your health. Communicate with friends and family and do your own research to improve health and wellness. Eat good food but be mindful of what you’re consuming. Most of all, be grateful and give thanks for all of the blessings in your life. Let happiness, love and spirit follow us into the new year.

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