Read ANH International's White Paper 'Sustainable Healthcare: working towards the paradigm shift'.
View a lecture, presented by Dr Robert Verkerk, titled 'Moving Beyond the Existing ‘Evidenced-Based Medicine Paradigm' hosted by the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA) and the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (ACNEM).
**Please note the sound quality is not good at the start but if you bear with it, it improves after the first few minutes!
Okay - what's with this new terminology? Why the need for a paradigm shift?
We asked Dr Rob Verkerk of ANH, who has pioneered this interpretation of the concept of 'sustainable healthcare', what he means by it. We asked him if a person in the street asked him about it, what would he say? Here's the answer:
“Do you think orthodox healthcare is sustainable? I don't. It costs too much, and it's killing more people than it's saving. Working with nature is sustainable—we've already seen that's the case with the energy industry and agriculture. Now let's do the same with healthcare....”
'Sustainable healthcare' is a concept we need to target at policy makers. They're the ones who need to get their heads around just how unsustainable orthodox healthcare currently is—let's look at what happens when we start working with the body using products and approaches the body is adapted to—not against it, using patented, new-to-nature drugs the body has had no evolutionary association with!
Do the images below help you to appreciate how far we've strayed from our natural origins in so many areas of human endeavour? Does drug-based healthcare, based on new-to-nature molecules, adequately take into account the way our genes have been conditioned or programmed over many thousands of years?
Sustainability is a robust concept that has proven its worth across a range of different industries including energy, agriculture, forestry and even construction and tourism.
Contemporary healthcare in western countries is presently dominated by use of pharmaceutical drugs—and most indicators would suggest that these approaches have had very limited value in dealing with some of the greatest scourges facing human health, including chronic diseases, psychiatric diseases and even certain infectious diseases.
From a cost/benefit perspective, pharmaceutical-based approaches to healthcare do not fare favourably and a sea change is required if mainstream western healthcare is to deal with the ever increasing burden on the healthcare system, particularly given that this burden will be exacerbated by an ageing population.
The dichotomy between complementary & alternative medicine (CAM) and orthodox/allopathic healthcare approaches has led to increased vilification of protagonists of each approach. The use of scientific methods of evaluation that do not lend themselves well to CAM approaches have meant that the ‘medical establishment’ has been able to increasingly marginalise CAM approaches. This has occurred while the establishment has provided no significant improvement in its offering to the majority of the population that is either forced to accept or choose to accept pharmaceutical-based medicine as the most effective and scientifically-validated form of medicine.
Encouraging a paradigm shift that requires all forms of healthcare to be bound by principles of sustainability is one of the surest means of providing a level playing field for all healthcare modalities which encourages those approaches that are compatible with the complex biological and energetic systems of which are bodies are comprised.
Sustainability principles, including those applying to engineering and design, should also be applied to healthcare facilities. To read an evaluation of the state-of-the-art on this subject, read an article by Dominic Stalker, a work experience science student who worked with the ANH during the summer of 2008 entitled Engineering sustainability into hospitals.
The ANH first defined sustainable healthcare in 2006 in the UK practitioner journal Nutrition Practitioner. The definition is as follows:
"A complex system of interacting approaches to the restoration, management and optimisation of human health that has an ecological base, that is environmentally, economically and socially viable indefinitely, that functions harmoniously both with the human body and the non-human environment, and which does not result in unfair or disproportionate impacts on any significant contributory element of the healthcare system."
Looking through the window—the paradigm shift is the other side of the wall...
For more than two decades the orthodox (allopathic or western) healthcare establishment has vigorously attacked the scientific basis, efficacy and safety of the diverse range of modalities befitting approaches that are commonly placed under the banner of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Simultaneously, the CAM community, the natural products industry, health freedom organisations and large numbers of consumers and protagonists of CAM, have argued that these attacks are unjustified and have reciprocated by exposing the apparent lack of efficacy and poor safety record of orthodox healthcare.
These differences of opinion are so deep-seated that the polarity between the two contrasting approaches has become increasingly reinforced. The relative lack of resources within the CAM community, the natural products industry and the health freedom movement, by comparison with the pharmaceutical industry and orthodox medical system which it supports, means that it is by and large proving very difficult to improve the acceptability of CAM modalities in mainstream healthcare.
All the available indicators suggest that orthodox healthcare, which is dominated by interventions with new-to-nature pharmaceutical drugs, is not sustainable. ‘Evidence-based medicine’ (EBM) is increasingly being used both as a means of justifying pharmaceutical intervention as the world’s dominant approach to healthcare and its ever-wider application to discredit or even outlaw particular CAM approaches.
The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) proposes that the application of the principles of sustainability to healthcare may be one of the most effective ways of altering the perception of established and emerging CAM modalities from the vantage point of government authorities and the current medical establishment. In addition, such an approach could significantly assist a transition in mainstream healthcare that is characterised by improved take up of biologically compatible modalities, as found within CAM. Such a transition would, among other things, allow for much greater use of preventative approaches, especially among children, young adults and non-diseased sub-populations, better diagnosis of disease, widespread adoption of lifestyle and nutrition-based approaches, greatly reduced dependence on new-to-nature medications and marked changes in medical training. With the identification of scientifically established criteria for sustainability in healthcare, only those approaches meeting the criteria stipulated would be accepted. Sustainability has become one of the key technological drivers in a range of other industries where social or environmental degradation has been implicated, and it is incongruous that the principles of sustainability have yet to be applied to healthcare.
The ANH, its affiliates and strategic partners are well set to help trigger the transition towards sustainable healthcare. The transition will continue to require funding of independent research in academic institutions, extensive public and government-targeted awareness campaigns and the establishment of scientifically monitored pilot programmes designed to demonstrate both feasibility and sustainability.
A transition towards sustainability would also help to eliminate the existing polarity between orthodox healthcare and CAM approaches and would inevitably prefer those approaches that function harmoniously with biological systems and human metabolism, rather than those that oppose them.
Sustainable healthcare—the new paradigm
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19th March 2014 EU reform of the EU Novel Food Regulation: Will it present a lesser or greater barrier for non-EU botanicals?
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5th March 2014 ANH Book Review: “Off Balance: The American Way Of Health” by Dr Leyla Ali, PharmD
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10th July 2013 Anti-Science Authority (ASA) provokes rebellion from homeopaths
10th July 2013 EU herbal medicines legislation fails again
3rd July 2013 Second thoughts in the technology age
3rd July 2013 ANH-Intl FEATURE: Clinician effect more powerful than drugs
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1st May 2013 UK measles hysteria reaches fever pitch
1st May 2013 ANH Feature: How source countries lose out in the search for new drugs
24th April 2013 Mainstream diet recommendations fail again
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10th April 2013 Natural health product clampdown gathers steam
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3rd April 2013 H2O dear: The rising problem of drugs in our water supplies
20th March 2013 India seeks new era of trade with the European Union
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27th February 2013 Epic fail: The verdict on the US healthcare system
27th February 2013 World Health Organization confirms fertility threat from endocrine disruptors
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20th February 2013 Kids and obesity: much more than a fizzy drink tax is needed!
20th February 2013 EFSA’s Extremely Flimsy Safety argument for Aspartame
13th February 2013 ANH-Intl Feature: Big Food’s artificial sweeteners are killing us
6th Febraury 2013 Imperialism still live and well in India
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30th January 2013 How maverick cancer treatments are suppressed by the mainstream
23rd January 2013 ANH Feature: Nature's answer to the blues
16th January 2013 US and EU regulators share legally abusive tools
19th December 2012 Lessons on overcoming Monsanto supremacy from India
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5th December 2012 Healthcare options in the austerity age
5th December 2012 The myth of heavy metal ‘CAMtamination’
5th December 2012 ANH Feature: Food irradiation - an increasing threat to our food integrity
21 November 2012 Treating People Not Cancer conference runs smoothly in Totnes
7th November 2012 International cancer forum calls for more of the same despite failures
24th October 2012 Electrosmog and colony collapse disorder
24th October 2012 Systems biology: EFSA’s escape route from health claims dead-end?
10th October 2012 CAM conference in European Parliament breaks new ground
3rd October 2012 ANH FEATURE: Is mainstream medicine ready to turn itself on its head?
26th September 2012 Nestle ethics called into question as it plans to develop medical food range
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24th February 2012 Addressing our failure to Thrive
12th July 2011 Natural healthcare rocks! ANH-Intl at SuperJam 2011
5th July 2011 Local UK council trounces a family’s human rights and sustainable lifestyle
30th June 2011 Natural healthcare and 'patient-centred outcomes'
6th April 2011 UK Ayurveda community joins movement for THMPD reform
1st April 2011 ANH-Intl Press Release: Alliance for Natural Health launches poster campaign
10th February 2011 ANH-Intl reports on the first ever Hygeia Symposium
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20th January 2011 ANH-Intl introduces the first ever Hygeia Syposium
18th January 2011 ANH-Intl Feature: Why the healthy ‘school dinner’ revolution is vital to our kids’ futures
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18th November 2010 ANH Feature: Ground-breaking CAM Interest Group meeting in European Parliament
9th September 2010 ANH Feature: What is ‘natural’?
6th August 2010 ANH-Intl Summary: Key challenges to natural methods of healthcare in Europe
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18th December 2009 ANH Press Release: 'United we are stronger' - ANH announces merger
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