(Cartoon originally copyrighted by the authors; G. Renee Guzlas, artist)
In the previous blog article entitled, The Secret to a Healthy Nation, an attempt was made to identify the ROOT CAUSE of the causes of our physical, mental, social and environmental diseases. After outlining in detail, 1) the prevalence of the diseases and their risk factors in our nation, 2) the pathogenic metabolic, social, mental and environmental mechanisms by which these diseases arise, and 3) the primacy of the environmental exposures and lifestyle choices over our genetic inheritance in the causation of diseases (especially with respect to cancer), it was concuded that our physical, mental, social and environmental health were being compromised rather than optimised.
“At this point, I hope that you appreciate that it is our unhealthy lifestyle choices such as low consumption of fruit and vegetables, physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol use that is resulting in premature death and disability. But one must ask, what is responsible for these unhealthy lifestyle choices in the first place? If we know better, how come we cannot do better? This brings us to the root cause of all of the causes and it is here where we will find the geopolitical and socioeconomic determinants of health. This is illustrated by an iceberg model of non-communicable disease (NCDs) where what we see is only the end result of the causal chain of influences (the tip of the iceberg), where at the very base we find poverty, illiteracy, urbanisation and globalisation, which interact with each other and serve to create, maintain and sustain unhealthy lifestyle choices, metabolic complications and eventually the non-communicable diseases.”
Adapted from: Noncommunicable diseases in the South-East Asia Region: Situation and response 2011.
The negative effects of globalisation on our physical and environmental health were identified:
“We all hear talk that globalisation is good for the economies of the world, in that by decreasing barriers to trade of goods and services, jobs will be created and unused resources would be able to flow more efficiently to unmet needs. However, what is being recognised is that globalisation in general, and that of the fast food industry in particular, has resulted in the creation of obesogenic and carcinogenic environments with the unintended consequences of rising childhood and adult obesity, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Also the fast food industry has been aided and abetted by the mass media advertising and marketing machinery.
Furthermore the fast food industry is sustained by first-world government subsidies that help produce cheap fats and sugars from corn and soy, and which is mainly responsible for fresh produce being more expensive compared with that of junk food. Furthermore our third-world farmers are put out of business as they are unable to compete with the transnational corporations who benefit from duplicitous first-world government subsidies and global trade policies restricting similar policies in third-world countries and this has given first-world agrobusiness an unfair competitive advantage.”
Adapted from: Obesity and Diabetes in Vulnerable Populations: Reflection on Proximal and Distal Causes
“What is also being increasingly recognised is that globalisation, mechanisation, urbanisation and the directive of economic growth, in addition to negatively affecting the health of the people, have also adversely affected the health of the planet. This ecological pathology is manifested in the forms of industrial waste, pollution, carbon resistance, global warming and climate change. Our over-consumption and wasteful lifestyles have now polluted the gifts of Mother Earth, her air, water and soil, which has sustained all life for billions of years. The figure below succinctly illustrates how industrialisation, population growth and economic growth have resulted in 1) the metabolic inflammation “metaflammation” of our bodies, and 2) ecological inflammation “ecoflammation” of our planet, and how this has resulted in chronic diseases and climate changes, respectively.”
Adapted from: Obesity, Chronic Disease, and Economic Growth: A Case for “Big Picture” Prevention
It was concluded:
“Since many of our physical, mental and social diseases arise as a results of negative outcomes to pathological processes that have take many years or decades to incur their damage and take root, be it at the physiological, mental and social levels, the best approach would involve us intervening at four levels: 1) at the time of the complications in order to rehabilitate and prevent other complications, 2) earlier on by screening for metabolic, mental and social risk factors before symptoms develops, 3) still earlier than that to identify individuals, families and communities at risk as manifested by at-risk behaviour, and finally, 4) at the level of our laws and our policies so that the healthier choices are subsidised and the unhealthy ones have their subsidies removed. As these four interventions are designed to prevent the production and distribution of psychopathological policies, environments and behaviours that could result in premature death and disability, they are rightfully called preventative strategies.”
AFMC Primer on Population Health A virtual textbook on Public Health concepts for clinicians: Chapter 4: Basic Concepts in Prevention, Surveillance, and Health Promotion
“Unfortunately, as our system stands now, we have a disease management model of health care delivery rather than a preventative health care maintenance and promotion system. It is my fervent hope that this would change as a matter of priority and policy as given the obesity trends we see in our midst, managing the complications of our physical, mental and social diseases are taking us where we cannot afford to go. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure (except if your salary or livelihood depends on the financial health and well-being of the medical-industrial complex). Unfortunately, as our system now stands, the physical, mental and social wellbeing of our households and its members, and the ecological health of our planet and its other sentient inhabitants, are less valued than the financial health of the man-made legal entities known as markets, firms, and transnational corporations!”
Our true physical, mental and social capital was eventually revealed, along with the secret to healthy living and the creation of a healthy nation.
“It is fundamentally about responsible stewardship of our life-supporting and life-nurturing networks within our bodies, our families and communities, and ultimately about responsible stewardship of our biosphere and lithosphere which have been gifted to us and have supported and nurtured us for billions of years.”
Although I peeled the social and environmental determinants of health back as far as I could go to globalisation, I still had not identified the core, the root cause of all causes, the global system determinants of health.
It was in the last month, that I came across a source, that was able to connect the dots for me and identify the “pattern that connects” if you may, to help me understand and appreciate 1) why if we knew better, we were unable to do better, 2) why the financial health of legal entities was more valued over the physical, mental and social health of the people and the ecological health of the planet, and 3) why responsible stewardship of our life-supporting and life-nurturing networks within, around and without was really the answer and had an underlying objective ontological explantion in addition to the “scriptural/spiritual” explanation, that was provided in that article.
Moreover, the source revealed that there was a major disabling blindspot in all of our present day economic, political and religious theories, and even in our international laws that served to undermine our physical, mental, social and ecological capital, without our ever being aware of it. The pattern that connected all the dots was the LIFE CAPITAL that encapsulated and undergirded our physical, mental, social and ecological capital, and provided 1) a metric by which all of our preventative measures can be monitored and evaluated, and 2) also the legal basis and precedences by which the spirit AND the letter of the law, be it local, regional and interntational, can now be synchronised and harmonised, and by which all of the actions, be they national or supranational legal entities can be objectively interpreted and remedied.
That source was the ground breaking study done by Professor John McMurtry in his book ‘The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure‘ which is a must read for all those who really care about themselves and the world around them and who yearn for a better understanding of why the world is how it is today. Moreover it spells out in detail what we need to do as a species to enlighten the disabling blindspots of our theories and laws to enable to the best of our abilities our LIFE CAPITAL in every domain of its existence, from the individual level, to the social level and ultimately the entire biosphere, so that our physical, mental, social and environmental well-being will no longer be compromised, but fully optimised.
I also higly reccomend that you read and study:
- ‘Understanding the Cancer Stage of Capitalism Review of John McMurtry‘s Book’ by Giorgio Baruchello and also
- ‘The “Cancer Stage of Capitalism”: The Ten-Point Global Paradigm Revolution – Breaking Out of the Invisible Prison,‘ by Professor John McMurtry, which “tighty” describes the diagnosis and cure, better than I could have ever dreamed of doing.
His credentials and publications can be found at the University of Guelph Faculty web page.
I am only just beginning to appreciate the full power and scope of his discovery of this most pivotal missing link – the big elephant in the room, hidden in plain site. Also I hope in later posts to elaborate some more on how our devaluation, of our life capital in all of our deliberations and rules of engagement with ourselves, each other and our planet, has hampered our progress as a humane species, and how we can, inclusive of our scientific, religious, political and economic theories, and our local, regional and international laws, be made whole once again.
Please stay tuned!!
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