13.05.20

Sustainable healthcare: A way to optimal health & wellbeing

By Liza Schneider

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us the need to shift to sustainable healthcare which capitalises on the body’s inherent ability to heal, writes Dr Liza Schneider BVSc.

Infections evoke fear and we may feel like victims in the midst of a disease outbreak like Covid-19. This can be especially worrying in the face of infections caused by pathogens, or germs, that are resistant to the modern antibiotics that have been a mainstay of our healthcare system for years.

To curtail the spread of Covid-19 we’ve had to learn behaviours like social distancing and regular hand sanitising. At the same time there are a number of things we can be doing to add additional layers of defence against this disease and others.

With any infection, there are two main factors that contribute to its spread. Firstly, the virulence (ability to cause disease) of the germs and secondly, the susceptibility of the host (a person’s vulnerability to developing infection when their body is invaded by germs).

Allergies, cancer, auto-immune conditions, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and resistant infections are common-place in our modern society. These diseases are often influenced by a number of factors and are difficult to cure with traditional methods. Our current strategies for treatment are aimed at managing the symptoms and, in some cases, managing the negative effects of the drugs being used.

This can be an unsustainable avenue. For example, an auto-immune disease that is treated with immuno-suppressive drugs can make the patient vulnerable to infection. If infection ensues with a resistant bacteria the patient is placed in a compromised situation. Sometimes the infection can only be managed with an antibiotic which can have side effects such as kidney failure. This approach ultimately brings us to a point where it is difficult and sometimes impossible to restore health.

As scientists working under the current model to quantify, manipulate and control biological systems, it can be difficult to take a step back and give credence to the body’s inherent ability to heal.

This is where sustainable healthcare comes into the picture. While it acknowledges the virulence of an organism, the focus on disease prevention is more than just strategies to avoid and kill the germs, it’s about building effective immune systems. At a basic level that’s taking a common sense approach like eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, minimising stress, drinking at least two litres of healthy fluids a day and exercising.

Sustainable healthcare combines science with the art of healing. Health professionals who understand this model work towards the wellbeing of their patients, not merely treating disease but embracing a discipline of healing and prevention for optimal health.

Sustainable healthcare advocates strategies to empower and educate people about improving, maintaining and taking responsibility for their health and well-being. This model:

  1. Encourages long-term health and well-being (physical, mental and emotional) as opposed to simply treating and managing symptoms (less reliance on pharmaceutical drugs). It aims to get to the cause of the health issue to restore and sustain health.
  2. Supports and capitalises on the body’s inherent ability to heal which is often overlooked by our modern medical model and is needed by the world at all times, especially during disease breakout.
  3. Integrates the benefits of our modern healthcare strategies for optimal results.

People who take responsibility and make conscious decisions to support their health and wellbeing (and are, ideally, supported to do so by their healthcare professional) are generally rewarded with optimal health. This means that they can be the best that they can. This in turn enhances their lives as well as others who they interact with.

If sustainable healthcare was widely embraced it would likely improve the quality and quantity of life for many. In addition we would all be contributing to the wellbeing of our environment and helping to regenerate a healthier planet.

Dr Liza Schneider is the Director of Holistic Vets. She is passionate about sustainable healthcare and says she frequently observes close parallels between human and animal health. She is a former athlete and author of “You CAN Do It!!” – a book for people wanting to lose body fat and gain a better understanding of nutrition, exercise and maintaining optimal health.