Health and Healthcare in Our Times

Published in Health

Some of the concepts underlying ECO HVAR for health.

Having worked in the field of physical rehabilitation for over 35 years, I have seen many changes in medical practice. Some for the better, some for the worse.

 

Modern medicine is dominated by the use of therapeutic drugs. Big business. Mega-profits for the companies which hit the right spot in the market. So there is a constant race to produce a new magic bullet cure for every possible human ailment, not to mention medicines designed to prevent illnesses, all preferably packaged and marketed for use by the maximum number of people over the maximum possible time.

 

The upside is that progress has been made in controlling diseases such as smallpox. The downside is that many medicines have side-effects which cause secondary problems, some of which can be dangerous and even fatal; and that overuse of medicines, especially antibiotics, has created drug-resistant infections such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and C.Diff (Clostridium difficile)and sometimes an upsurge in the diseases which the medicines were supposed to treat, such as drug-resistant tuberculosis. 

 

Many therapeutic drugs are now available over-the-counter and on the internet. Practitioners of different kinds have prescription rights. In the United Kingdom, apart from registered medical practitioners, some nurses, health visitors, physiotherapists and podiatrists have the right to prescribe certain types of drug, as do dentists. Whenever a patient is under the care of several practitioners, there is a risk of medicines being over-prescribed. Worse still, if there is no coordination between the practitioners, conflicting drugs may be administered with results varying from minor disruption to disastrous.

 

In some ways, the emphasis on drug therapy has distorted principles of health care. Many doctors and patients expect that cure can come out of a bottle, packet or sachet - and that ‘scientific medicine’ was the only way problems could and should be treated. When I trained as a Chartered physiotherapist in the UK all those years ago, I was reluctant to treat tuberculosis patients, because both my parents had had TB, and my oldest brother had died of the disease. My fears were brushed away: ‘It’s not a problem if you get TB nowadays, you just take the drugs and all is well’. In the same spirit of false confidence, over the following years most of the UK’s isolation hospitals for infectious diseases were closed. This, of course, was before the days of drug-resistant TB, now a major source of concern in world health, alongside the rise of the so-called ‘superbugs’ mentioned above which afflict almost all UK hospitals. The US report, 'Antibiotic reistance threats in the United States, 2013', issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, identified that "most deaths related to antibiotic  resistance happen in healthcare settings such as hospitals and nursing homes".

 

From the patient’s point of view, the expectation that all ills can be cured by the wonders of modern medicines has created a sense of invincibility. People don’t feel responsible for preventing illness and promoting their own wellbeing. Health promotion campaigns come and go, and there are constant, sometimes conflicting, messages in the media about ‘healthy living’.

 

Healthy living depends on many factors, physical, mental and emotional. Environment also plays an important part. There is no single formula for a healthy lifestyle. Much depends on the individual. Diet, exercise and lifestyle habits have their influence one’s health, and have to be considered as a whole in relation to an individual’s capacities, preferences and aspirations. A top-class sports competitor has different needs from the sedentary office worker, but for health both have to pay attention to diet, exercise and lifestyle habits. For everyone, hygiene is of primary importance in preventing and controlling infection and cross-infection.

 

My years of experience as a rehabilitation practitioner specializing in trauma and sports injuries have, naturally, taught me much. My basic principles have been constant throughout:

1. simple solutions

2. freedom of choice

 

I favour natural cures to injuries and illnesses, whenever possible. The human body has a powerful capacity to heal itself, in the right conditions. It’s up to the practitioner to help create the right conditions. The patient (or the person responsible for the patient in the case of a child or someone incapable of making reasoned choices) should be informed of the nature of the injury or illness, the possible treatments and their effects (including risks), and self-help measures. Then it’s up to the patient to decide which course of action is best in a given situation. Very often, feeling in control of the situation is an important part of the patient’s ability to recover.

 

This is the background to the formation of ECO HVAR for health, a not-for-profit organization promoting an understanding healthy lifestyles, problem prevention and solutions.

 

© Vivian Grisogono 2013

You are here: Home health articles Health and Healthcare in Our Times

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Illegal businesses form an interlocking web in the Brazilian remote region where Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira were killed, threatening Indigenous communities and local ecology

    Near a sharp bend on the Itaquaí River, perched on a steep muddy bank, a lone wooden structure marks the last outpost of a fragile resistance.

    This is the informal checkpoint used by the Indigenous rights advocate Bruno Pereira, an isolated stilted shack he hoped could help curb the rampant organised crime which threatens the pristine rainforest of the remote Javari Valley, the ecosystems within it and the Indigenous communities who call it home.

    Continue reading...

  • Developing countries’ delegates at UN conference seek recognition of small fisheries’ role in protecting oceans and fighting hunger

    Small-scale fishermen and women from coastal nations in the frontline of the “ocean emergency” have accused world leaders and other decision-makers at the UN oceans conference of ignoring their voices in favour of corporate interests.

    More than half of the world’s fish caught for human consumption comes from small-scale fishing communities, yet their contribution to food security and ocean protection is not being sufficiently recognised, they say.

    Continue reading...

  • Tebay, Cumbria: Getting the grass cut, baled and stored in the barn is one of the biggest and most important jobs of the year

    At least three days of hot, sunny weather are needed to make hay, and good weather is often in short supply in Cumbria. We had been watching our weather apps avidly, and a window appeared. The grass had grown long enough to make hay, the seed had set and there were no nesting birds in the fields, so it was all systems go.

    My son had mown the grass and “scaled it out” each day. As the grass is turned and tedded, the seeds can return to the meadow. The sheep’s hooves will trample in the seed and help it germinate to revive the meadow. Unfortunately, the starter motor had gone on the tractor – all our equipment is secondhand, and most of it very old – and I was queueing at the engineer’s parts counter when my son phoned to say that it was raining on the side of Blencathra where he was shepherding, and he was going to race home to get the hay in.

    Continue reading...

  • An Italian town has banned the practice during a heatwave, but if done right it benefits hair and scalp

    Global consumption of water is growing twice as fast as the world’s population and droughts are affecting swathes of the planet. So it was no surprise that this week the mayor of an Italian town in Emilia-Romagna, which is experiencing a severe heatwave, banned hairdressers from shampooing their customers’ hair twice, saying it would save thousands of litres of water a day.

    As we all attempt to reduce waste, that additional shampoo at home or in the salon can seem like overkill. So is what is known in the trade as “double cleansing” really necessary? No, but every hairdresser and trichologist is seemingly in agreement that the second shampoo has distinct benefits to scalp and hair, regardless of skin and hair type.

    Continue reading...

  • Focus of information places health responsibility on those who bear consequences of breathing poor air

    Summer is here and so is the risk of summertime smog.

    To help, Leeds city council has launched an email service to warn people when air pollution deteriorates. This joins long-established air pollution information systems that include the UK government’s webpages.

    Continue reading...

  • The best of this week’s wildlife pictures, including a stonefish, a mountain jerboa and a bevy of otters

    Continue reading...

  • Environment secretary George Eustice wants to amend Habitats Directive, which protects Natura 2000 sites

    Environment secretary George Eustice wants to tear up a key piece of European law that environmentalists say protects cherished habitats in the UK.

    Eustice told MPs the Habitats Directive was in a list of laws he wanted to amend in the forthcoming Brexit freedoms bill designed to cut red tape, saying it was bureaucratic and fundamentally flawed on multiple levels.

    Continue reading...

  • Ministers urged to toughen law to help restore carbon sinks, as figures point to illegal burning

    The government is failing to protect peatlands in England, conservation groups have warned, with the country at risk of losing more of its most efficient carbon sinks.

    Figures obtained by Wildlife and Countryside Link suggest illegal burns of the areas, which are important for biodiversity and carbon sequestration, are likely to have taken place.

    Continue reading...

  • Researchers find there could be many more ancient trees than previously recorded, amid calls for better protections

    There could be more than 2m ancient and veteran trees in England, many times more than previously recorded, researchers have found.

    Campaigners are calling on the government to give ancient trees the sameprotections as wildlife and old buildings.

    Continue reading...

  • Research ‘exposes litany of misleading claims’ by household names, including Coca-Cola and Unilever

    Claims about plastic packaging being eco-friendly made by big brands, including Coca-Cola and Unilever, are misleading greenwashing, according to a report.

    The Changing Markets Foundation says claims that companies are intercepting and using “ocean-bound” or “recyclable” plastic to tackle the plastic pollution crisis are some of the most common examples of greenwashing.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds

  • Here are some announcements you may have missed from the 2022 UN Ocean Conference.

  • Protecting nature starts with science. Here’s a roundup of recent research published by Conservation International experts.

  • In case you missed it: A giant stingray hooked (and released) by a fisherman in Cambodia’s Mekong River earlier this month has taken the title of world’s largest freshwater fish.

  • In case you missed it: The unprecedented floods that ripped through Yellowstone National Park in the United States could be a warning of climate impacts to come.

  • The sunny days of summer are quickly approaching — and Conservation International staff are spending some free time with their favorite books. Here’s what they’re saying about the books they can’t put down.

  • Editor's note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Conservation News shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

    1. The world’s largest plant is a self-cloning sea grass in Australia

    Scientists have discovered a new contender for the largest living organism.

    The story: Last week, we brought you a story about the world’s oldest living things. This week, it’s the largest.

    A new study has revealed that a massive meadow of sea grass off the coast of Australia is one giant, self-cloning organism, reports Kate Golembiewski for the New York Times. The species, called Poseidon’s ribbon weed, or Posidonia australis, has been expanding over an area the size of Cincinnati for more than 4,500 years.

    Golembiewski writes that Posidonia is able to clone itself by creating new shoots that branch off from its root system. But it gets even stranger: Posidonia isn’t just a clone. Researchers believe it may also be a polyploidy — a hybrid from two distinct species, possessing two complete sets of chromosomes. Polyploidy occurs in many different species, but often produces individuals that can't reproduce. In the case of Posidonia, cloning itself is the only way to stay alive.

    The big picture: Posidonia isn’t the only clonal plant colony in the world. One of the most famous and largest is a quaking aspen colony in Utah known as “Pando,” which originated from a single seed sometime near the end of the last ice age. The colony now makes up 40,000 aspen trees that are connected by a continuous root system.

    Scientists fear climate change and other sustained environmental degradation could spell the end of Pando, which has been shrinking in size in recent years. Posidonia, which is old enough to have survived the last ice age, may fare better in the face of rapidly shifting temperatures. In fact, Elizabeth Sinclair, one of the study’s authors, said the plant’s extra genes could give it “the ability to cope with a broad range of conditions, which is a great thing in climate change.”

    Read more here.

    2. Crackling or desolate?: AI trained to hear coral's sounds of life

    Scientists can now listen for healthy coral.

    The story: The world’s coral reefs are struggling to survive. Climate-driven marine heatwaves have caused mass bleaching and die-offs, with 14 percent of the world's coral reefs destroyed between 2009 and 2018. Now, a group of scientists has developed a novel approach for detecting the damage: Using hundreds of reef recordings, they’ve trained a computer to track the health of coral reefs by listening to them, reports Angie Teo for Reuters.

    Thriving reefs sound a bit like a campfire, crackling with the cacophony of underwater life. In contrast, degraded reefs are far more silent. New research has shown that artificial intelligence can pick up on audio patterns that are not detectable to humans — providing fast, accurate data.

    “Sound recorders and AI could be used around the world to monitor the health of reefs, and discover whether attempts to protect and restore them are working,” the study’s co-author Tim Lamont told Cosmos. “In many cases it’s easier and cheaper to deploy an underwater hydrophone on a reef and leave it there than to have expert divers visiting the reef repeatedly to survey it, especially in remote locations.”

    The big picture: From motion-detector cameras that provide a real-world view of vulnerable species’ habitats, to tracking devices for monitoring wildlife migrations — technology is helping conservationists find solutions for critical environmental challenges.

    For example, Wildlife Insights, a cloud-based platform developed by Conservation International, Google and other partners, uses algorithms to identify camera trap images far faster than any researcher can. The data is critical to crafting smart policies for wildlife conservation.

    This month, Conservation International and partners launched a new app called “Fin Finder,” which enables customs inspectors to take a photo of a shark or manta ray fin and identify it within seconds. Powered by artificial intelligence, the app can help governments confiscate fins that are illegal to trade.

    Read more here.


    FURTHER READING:


    3. How this golden-eyed feline became the biggest comeback in cat conservation

    This cat is the star of a success story.

    The story: The Iberian lynx is the most endangered feline species in the world. The elusive cat, known for its distinctive amber eyes and bushy beard, was pushed to the brink by hunting, habitat loss and a virus that killed its main source of prey — the European rabbit. At its lowest point, less than 100 existed in the wild.

    But now, after 20 years of dedicated conservation efforts and a successful captive-breeding program, the lynx has made a triumphant return throughout its native habitat in Spain and Portugal, reports Christine Dell’amore for National Geographic. Slowly but surely, the population has inched upward and now there are around 400 individuals roaming the scrublands of Southern Europe.

    The big picture: The comeback cat still has a long road to recovery. Like many other large predators, the Iberian lynx needs a large, uninterrupted habitat with plenty of room to roam. But right now, its thousand-square-mile territory is fragmented and honeycombed by busy highways and other infrastructure. For Iberian lynx to truly bounce back, the isolated populations need to be able to reach one another and breed.

    The solution is to build wildlife corridors — essential passageways that allow animals to move from one safe location to another. It’s an approach that has worked for many other highly mobile species, including chimpanzees. Right now, efforts are underway to reconnect the fragmented habitat and help these felines find one another once again.

    Read more here.


    FURTHER READING:


    Will McCarry is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

    Cover image: A large seagrass bed in Honduras (© Joanne-Weston)

  • New technology will help inspectors tackle the illegal wildlife trade using a tool most already have in their pockets: their cell phones.

  • In case you missed it: Two ancient trees bring attention to the threat of global warming, hybridization could help some animals adapt to rising temperatures and companies must decrease deforestation to prevent climate-related losses.

  • In case you missed it: Rising temperatures are disrupting peoples’ slumber, carbon offsets are helping the Indigenous Hadza people protect the forests they depend on and elephants are consuming massive amounts of plastic from dumpsters in India.

  • In case you missed it: A tick that causes a meat allergy is shifting its range in response to global warming, climate change is taking a huge toll on India and species are disappearing before humans even know they exist.