SHISHIR LAMSAL (Intern, BDS 2014)
Diseases don’t see who you are, where you are from, how rich you are, how educated you are. Everybody is equally affected by different disease conditions and potential health risks present within our environment and behaviors. You reap what you sow. But not everybody is well aware about the potential health hazards, risk behaviors and their outcome in future. Unluckily, health care system worldwide including our country, Nepal, is generally focused on reversing sickness, not on promoting health in overall. Similarly, being a clinician, notion of treating patients hasn’t come out of our head. In such situation, it’s difficult to achieve a far-fetched goal of preventing what’s wrong around us to prevent what’s going to be wrong in us in future. In simple words, focusing on preventive approach rather than on curative one.
In this article, I will be discussing on how we as a clinician can change ourselves from being one who delivers cure to one who prevents diseases, especially in context of Nepal. If we go few times back, we see plenty of examples how Nepal Government’s, INGO’s, NGO’s health promoting programs have shown substantial results. As novice as it may seem, but the simple act of making people aware about what they are doing wrong has led to great changes in society seen substantially regarding diseases like diarrhoea, malnutrition and in the sector of maternal and child health care in Nepal. It’s no doubt such programs are what we should focus on but those programs hasn’t been able to include lot more of health issues and concerns in Nepal yet. On the other hand such programs are basically based on mass education approach. The individualized information and education is still lacking.
In this regard, clinicians have an upper hand in identifying individual exposure to risk environment or behavior leading to certain condition or disease. Not only they can make them aware about such exposure and its link to the disease, they can also contribute in making the patient’s family and community aware of such fact. This can come handy in community participation in government efforts in prevention of certain diseases or conditions. For e.g. : If a cancer patient who is also a smoker is made aware about how smoking led to his cancerous condition, not only will this message spread to family and community, this will make community proactive supporters in every efforts of government in lessening the spread of tobacco business.
This is just one example how clinician’s role can be a milestone in ensuring health friendly community and making preventive approach of health care a success. On the other hand, clinicians get firsthand information regarding how changing lifestyle of people is affecting their health. For e.g. : Recently it was found that in people residing in large cities, pollution has become the leading cause of respiratory and lung diseases leaving behind the previously known leading cause i.e. smoking. When clinicians have this information, it’s their duty to alarm policy makers as well the community members about the way pollution can make city crippled in future. This can lead community in right path of eradicating pollution before it creates an alarming situation.
Health is one of the common aspiration of all of us living in this planet and clinicians are the mediators of this common aspiration. If anyone can change how we achieve this common goal of healthy life, it’s clinicians first, then community members. So shifting the concept of healthcare from primarily curative to primarily preventive is what we should focus on. There is not a single way to do it. But they say ‘Future is what we invest upon today’.