Sickcare or healthcare

A heart surgeon and his assistant prepare a patient for open heart surgery by placing broken ice around his head and body. The uniqueness of the method consists of lowering the patient’s temperature down to 24-26 Celsius. The heart is then stopped and operated on for up to 90 minutes. Photo: Reuters

Getting a heart attack may necessitate a bypass surgery. In my country Malaysia, the cost of such bypass surgery is about $10,500. The figure is far higher in Singapore. Such major surgery comes with significant risk of fatality. The recovery is usually slow and painful with substantial work-time loss. The bypass surgery leaves behind a huge scar both on the chest and in the mind of the victim, besides cutting a big hole in his pocket. Recovery from a heart attack with or without bypass surgery is often far from perfect.

The ‘recovered’ heart may be badly scarred, weakened and required continuous treatment with multiple expensive medicines. Yet, one may not be able to get back to life as good as ever. The heart function may not be as good as before if there is a partial loss of heart muscle as a result of irreversible damage. One’s quality of life may nosedive with decreased performance and satisfaction. One’s lifespan may even be shortened. In addition, the fear of another heart attack will linger on in one’s mind for a long period of time.

This is the result of curative medicine. One may end up going through a horrendous experience of a debilitating disease and its accompanying treatment with lots of money spent but no guarantee of a full functional recovery. Why should we allow this to happen? After all, there is enough information about the factors that cause most of the diseases and most of them can be neutralised.

People should be vigilantly thinking of avoiding all the major debilitating diseases especially a heart attack and work diligently towards mitigating whatever risk factors. All these can be done. And, it should be done as early as possible. If people are constantly reminded about this, their awareness will continue to increase and one fine day, they will contemplate on them to the point of wanting to take action towards good health. The policy makers and health professionals should do all they can, to encourage increasing awareness through regular health education programs.

Prevention is the best answer to all potential diseases. People used to say that prevention is better than cure but more accurately, prevention actually negates cure. It is like darkness that disappears in the presence of light. Prevention of a disease from happening makes the need for curing it irrelevant. If adequate preventive healthcare is instituted early enough, perhaps there shall be NO heart attack, no bypass surgery, no scar and no hole in the victim’s pocket. By practising preventive healthcare, one can look forward to live a healthier and longer life.

Once a heart attack occurred, whatever treatment that follows is seriously no longer healthcare in the true sense of the word ‘health’. The sickness has occurred. Whatever treatment that follows is the treatment of a sick man or simply sickcare. Sickcare is a damage-control-care of a sickness that has taken place and had already cast its negative effects on the sufferer, some of which are irreversible.

The term healthcare should be exclusively used to mean all forms of care towards promoting good health and preventing diseases. It should be a preventive holistic care of individuals. This should be gradually assimilated into one’s life to optimise one’s health. It comprises all the intelligent preemptive actions to be taken well ahead of the onset of all diseases, to delay, avoid or evade them, as far as possible. Yes, human beings are mortal beings. Their life is certainly uncertain with many diseases inherent, yet they can, and should do all they can, to increase their likelihood of survival with the best health they can possibly attain.

Preventive healthcare is thus the true healthcare. It comprises two important components: Health education and specific protection. Health education is a powerful component as KNOWLEDGE is indeed POWER. With knowledge, comes awareness, belief and aspiration that changes our attitude. Truly, for things to change, we got to change ourselves first. We got to take actions to change our unhealthy habits towards enhancing our physical, mental and social well being.

Now that we understand what healthcare should be and what sickcare means, it is time to take a close look at the situation that we are caught in, now. Everyday, there are just too many patients queueing up with all sorts of illnesses, waiting to consult the limited number of overworked doctors in the public service. These doctors are much overworked. Day after day, they work on the overwhelming number of patients with little or no time left to promote health education. The system is badly caught up with providing curative healthcare (which is actually sickcare) at the expense of a more effective and cost-saving preventive healthcare. There is a need for some form of revamp of the system.

To do so, we have to step out of that box of failed system. We have to work towards getting out of the vicious cycle of insufficient health education leading to more people falling sick and more doctors being caught up with providing sickcare that results in little or no time for them to promote health education.

Truly, the so-called curative medicine never really cures. Curative medicine is sickcare. Sickcare fails miserably to address the fundamental causes of most diseases namely: the prevalent disastrous lifestyle and dietary habit that is unhealthy. To address this failure, there is a need to systematically introduce more and more health education into the system. As the level of health education improves over time, there shall be increasing health awareness that modify people’s behaviour towards a healthier lifestyle and eating habit.

Our lifestyle and habit are learned behaviour. Fortunately, whatever that we learned can be unlearned. Thus, people can unlearn their disastrous lifestyle and eating habit. This should be promoted through health education that forms a major part of preventive healthcare.

The other part of preventive healthcare is specific protection. We need to immunise ourselves against many diseases and wear whatever personal protective equipment to protect ourselves from danger and diseases. Let us live our life well and intelligently.

My next column will be on ‘The creepy-crawlies in us’.

Dr. Victor Ti, MD, MFAM (Malaysia), FRACGP (Australia), Dip P Dermatology (UK), Dip STDs/AIDS (Thailand), Dip. AARAM (USA), LCP of Aesthetic Med.(Malaysia) is an experienced expat specialist generalist (Family Physician) of BH Clinic, Phnom Penh. As a specialist generalist, he is skillful at diagnosing all general diseases and excluding the sinister ones. Apart from the general diseases, Dr. Victor is also known for his skill in skin diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, minor surgery and aesthetic medicine. He can be contacted via email
Tel: 023900446 or Whatsapp: +60164122977


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