People are dying every day from diseases of lifestyle, meaning
that these diseases could be prevented. Yet they’re not being prevented and
they’re not always being treated correctly either, which means more people get
sick and this puts even more pressure on an already stressed healthcare system.
So what’s the answer?
According to Dr Greg Venning, a Holistic Chiropractor and
certified wellness professional of The Vitality Concept, non-communicable diseases such as heart
disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, depression, osteoporosis and chronic pain
are caused by lifestyle choices – and he says no drug, surgery or radiation can
undo the damage that poor lifestyle choices create.
“The current health care system is a ‘sick care system’
built in the last century on the success of just a few health issues such as treatment
of infections with antibiotics and the use of surgery for trauma. The only
tools allopathic medicine has are drugs, surgery and radiation.
“Since the whole system is set up around the use of those
tools and the tools no longer work, the whole system no longer works. These
diseases are affecting 80% of our productive population [people between 35 and
65] and they are affecting us at younger and younger ages every year. Some 25%
of US children are on prescription drugs at any one time,” says Dr Venning.
A new paradigm
He says that medicine has been doing little more than taking
people from negative to neutral, and only with moderate success. Yet he
believes it will take a whole new paradigm to take people from neutral to
“When we apply the old paradigm to the new problem, we get
trouble. According to the British Medical
Journal medical error is the third leading cause of death in the UK. A 2009
article in the Journal of the American
Medical Association asserted that in the US, the medical system did more harm
than good. We're trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
“We are committing suicide by lifestyle and hoping that a
scientist will come up with a magic pill to save us. I believe that the whole
medical paradigm of the sick-care system is built around a three fundamentally
unquestioned assumptions: We are machines, reducible to the sum of our parts,
we are separate from nature and we are inherently broken and need external help
to stay alive.
“These assumptions underlie our research, our attitudes and
our culture in the conventional healthcare field.”
Not unique to South
As grim as the situation is, Venning says that it’s not
unique to South Africa and is, in fact, a global problem.
In 2011 the UN held a special plenary
council on this issue and found that although this was a massive issue for
industrialised countries such as the UK and the USA, these 'diseases of
lifestyle' were increasing at a faster rate in developing countries such as SA,
India and Brazil.
The UN's prognosis was that this is "an ominous tide
for which the prognosis is grim".
report outlined that some countries are spending up to 15% of their
national budget on just diabetes alone and getting very little in return for
it. That means its using resources that could be directed toward education or
“In 2011 a report from Harvard University and the World
Economic Forum said that the lost productivity that the five main chronic
diseases would cause in the following two years would cost the world economy
$4.3 trillion dollars.
“That's just the lost productivity, not the cost of
treatment. To give you some perspective, $4,3 trillion dollars could provide
the funding for UCT for 252 years and make education there free. This health
issue is the biggest threat to global prosperity, bar none, because it's
affecting the most productive segments of the population,” adds Venning.
An industry of health
Venning urges that we turn the situation around completely,
and stresses that this begins with the individual.
“Each one of us is innately capable of experiencing vitality
for a lifetime. It is literally written within our genes. All we have to do is
feed our inborn resources. Each of us is whole and our human potential and
personal performance will astound us.
“This is a change that will come from the ground up. More
and more individuals are shaking the conventional wisdom espoused from on high'
and finding what works for them. This takes personal responsibility which most
people will be forced into do because of spiralling health costs.”
He believes that that academic research will begin to ask
new questions and since research is driven by questions, the quality of the
answer is determined by the quality of the question. He firmly believes that instead
of asking how to temporarily stop symptoms, the question will become how to
“A new industry centred on health creation will emerge,
creating financial value in the new arena of health creation where very little
currently exists. This will drive innovation, fund research and highlight
political agendas,” he says.
So, where do we begin?
Venning says that for some it will mean addressing their
mental/emotional state, for others their nutrition or movement may be the place
“The solution is going to be driven by the individual,
supported by the family and the community and facilitated by companies and
countries. We need to take
responsibility for ourselves. No one is going to come
and save us. Selfishness is a virtue here, only by saving yourself can you help
others to save themselves,” he concludes.