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Sustainability and Healthcare

Over the last few years, the term “Sustainability ” has quickly become a bit of a buzz word. It’s particularly heard in the field of economics and politics in the form of the preposterous concept of “sustainable growth”. In my opinion, this concept does not stand up to logical scrutiny. For anyone who doubts that and has scarce time to read about it, just look at the front cover of the Richard Douthwaite’s book “The Growth Illusion”. A picture of a balloon with the globe painted upon it has a pipe running from it to a factory. The picture achieves movement to show that the balloon is gradually getting bigger with a clue to the inevitable consequence. It’s also used in the field of ecology, where it makes perfect sense. However, it is not a term often used in the field of medicine and healthcare, yet this area is one of the most important to apply the concept!

For any medical intervention, logically, the improvements afforded to the patient by its methods must be sustainable even subsequent to withdrawal. This logical conclusion is arrived at if one considers that the natural human state is one of homoeostasis, balance.

Obviously, until we establish reliable holistic solutions to disease processes like diabetes, dystonia and multiple sclerosis, reductionist approaches may well be appropriate as they can help life continue in relative comfort, whilst more sustainable, holistic solutions are determined. However, the problem should never be merely ‘swept under the carpet’, removing the opportunity for self-understanding, progress in healthcare systems and allowing the underlying disease mechanisms to continue.

Written by Sean

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