Health and happiness is our birthright. For over two decades as both a conventional doctor and Ayurveda Practitioner, in India, South Africa and in various parts of the world I am constantly plagued with the questions:
· Is health a “Promised Land” based on rules and findings set by some Authority?
· Is health and wellness not our basic nature?
In my quest for meaning and understanding of the topic I have engaged in wide range study and discussions and have found diverse interpretations of health and wellness. Given what I am about to share I ask you to consider if my experience is Truth or merely an interpretation of health and wellness.
During my stay in India I attended a seminar. The topic was very interesting, “Diagnosed Health and True Health.” The seminar was followed by a workshop. This was organized by an NGO, where most of the members are from the families of Mahatma Gandhi Freedom Movement.
In India, Medical Aid Companies are growing because of Multinational Companies investing in India.
This is a new concept in India because till now there has been a direct relationship between a patient and his doctor. This new dynamic has raised a big concern about widening the communication gap between doctors and patients and the increasing cost of treatments. The conference was thus attended by Ayurvedic doctors, medical specialists, psychiatrists, health counsellors and social organizations representatives on one hand and experts from the pharma industry and CEOs of businesses on other hand.
Undoubtedly health awareness is increasing worldwide but at the same time so is phobia. Old school doctors are concerned about the nexus between pharma industries and medical aid companies because the line of treatment is now discussed at the medical aid company level rather than between doctor and patient. It is laughable how a non-medico person can decide about a treatment plan where he will prioritise his company’s benefits, not what is best for the patient. Businesses are hiring people primarily to maximise efficiency. This means that for them their clients are “programmed devices” nor human beings.
In old books of medicines, they mentioned WNL (Within Normal Limits). This means, for example, that standard BP is 120/80. But upper BP in the range of 110/140 and lower BP from 70-95 is considered to be normal. The same is true with blood sugar levels. But in modern medical systems owned by Multinationals this is no more in use. If a reading is a little bit high doctors label you as hypertensive or diabetic and start medicating. Even modern-day grandma (Google) also encourages this phobia by providing incorrect information.
Increasingly, and without due diligence, prescribed medication is becoming the norm rather than a rule. In many instances blood tests become the authority used for the diagnosis and prescription of drugs. These are often detrimental to overall health and wellness.
This new Western concept Mediclaim is deeply concerning to them especially for the people who fought for freedom struggle from British. Actually, some new organisations are strongly opposing this nexus. They don’t let the multi -nationals put the country in a ‘draw’ – pathologizing the people in order to sell drugs- they don’t let them make India more the frontier market for making profits than it is already.
To cite an example:
A young man in his early 30s, suffering with headaches due to work related pressures, consulted a doctor. Upon the routine examination it was found that his blood pressure was slightly high. A series of blood tests were conducted revealing a moderately high cholesterol level. Antihypertensive and Cholesterol medication were promptly prescribed, without even a thought to how the chemicals contained in these medications would have an adverse effect on his overall health.
I found in my medical practice, people in their 70’s who supposedly died of accidental causes but later post-mortems revealed an old pancreatic cancer or heart blockage.
A matter of concern is the increase in businesses selling HIV medicines and Healers or Gurus or even Pastors for that matter claiming to cure by miracles.
Another concern is that Multinational Pharmaceuticals promote “life and death” dangers to health because of deficiency of vitamins, encouraging daily dosages of supplements. Health shops, providing “Heath Food” at ridiculous prices, are mushrooming all around us.
Friend, in concluding session, a proposal was sent to the government for serious consideration.
“A big part of profit from these multinationals must be given to public health system to improve the facilities can be improved in public clinic and hospitals. In fact, even now more than half of population is still dependent on these public hospitals.”
Unsurprisingly, research indicates the fastest growing economy in the world are the Pharmaceutical & Health Supplement and Beauty industry. In light of this it is essential for all to know what constitutes Health and Wellness. It is essential for us to become discerning by reflecting on whether health is some “promised land” achieved by following rules set by an authority or if health is our basic nature.
Friend, at such a juncture, it is wise to seek an alternative to health and your wellbeing from Ayurveda, enriched by a spiritual and cultural heritage of humanity, not in order to go back, but for the light, inspiration and courage to go forward into the future with clarity and confidence.
There are many modalities of healing, like corners in a room. Each one is different but each one is relevant. Each one gives a different perspective on the whole, but each one belonging, and without each corner the room is weakened. Because health and happiness is our birthright, we must find the middle way of moderation, between the extremes of two extremes.
I have already spent fifteen years working in this rainbow nation. I advocate an integrated approach to health and I work closely with my patients to find unique solutions to questions of health and well-being through combining the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda with current practices, and by drawing on a variety of techniques. I am grateful to thousands of South Africans for their trust in this oldest art of healing. I am also thankful to some of my friends for whom I was unable to provide a remedy or cure through the lack of understanding each other. One always learns from these experiences.
I am back at work. Our working hours are from 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Sunday all seven days a week.
Dr Ram Garg
BAMS, MD (Kurukshetra University) India
14 Guillaume Avenue Bordeaux Johannesburg South Africa