For “Healthy lives, healthy people” keep healthcare choices broad

For the past couple of years, there has been an intense debate on healthcare in the United States of America, as healthcare reform legislation passed into law.  More recently, here in the United Kingdom, the debate on healthcare has also been heating up, with the coalition’s plans to radically alter the nature of how the National Health Service is run.  Like many others, our office is considering a response to a white paper from the Department of Health on Healthy lives, healthy people: our strategy for public health in England

While the focus of the white paper is largely on the delivery of National Health Service care, there seems to be an opening of the door to a recognition that the public seeks a diversity of options for care.  As the white paper puts it, “The dilemma for government is this: it is simply not possible to promote healthier lifestyles through Whitehall diktat and nannying about the way people should live. Recent years have proved that one-size-fits-all solutions are no good when public health challenges vary from one neighbourhood to the next. But we cannot sit back while, in spite of all this, so many people are suffering such severe lifestyle-driven ill health and such acute health inequalities. We need a new approach that empowers individuals to make healthy choices and gives communities the tools to address their own, particular needs.”

Such choices need to include a greater respect for the freedom of individuals to choose what kind of care they prefer.  One point that often gets overlooked in healthcare debates  is that there are other approaches beyond varied ways of administering conventional medicine. A growing number of people desire more holistic methods of healthcare. To many this means the opportunity to choose complementary or alternative medicine. To others it means the ability to take a purely spiritual approach to their care and cure based on an understanding of the Bible and what Jesus showed healing to be.

For instance, in my case, as a British-born citizen who has also lived for eight years in the US, I haven’t used the NHS or private medical insurance for three decades. Yet I have experienced effective health care through the practise Christian Science. Although I am, of course, free to use medicine or other means, this systematic approach of looking to God for healing has proved consistently effective for me.

Consequently, as healthcare debates continue here in the UK and in the US – and globally – I look for broadly acceptable ideas to emerge that can improve society’s record of meeting healthcare needs according to each individual’s choice. And, while I would never push it on anyone, I pray that more people will recognize the merits of what Mary Baker Eddy referred to as “the medicine of Mind [God],” both for its practical effectiveness and for the “side effect” I experienced: a more conscious recognition of the reality of that all-loving, divine Mind, God.

In 2004 we responded to a previous consultation on Choosing Health?  A consultation on action to improve people’s health.  Here is our submission.

This blog has been adapted from an article I wrote for The Christian Science Monitor called Keeping healthcare choices broad, published October 14, 2009.

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