Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Reform from Utah: We Must Focus on Health, Not Disease

"The following is a wonderful statement put out by a committee organized by the State of Utah to reform health care. I was privileged to be part of this committee." - HR

A Challenge and a Declaration

There will still be an enormous crisis in the health of Utahns and the rest of the Nation even if any existing health care reform plan in the United States is fully implemented and funded. No amount of money being poured into the health care system as envisioned in any current plan will generate the healthy individuals, families and communities in Utah and the Nation that we all aspire to achieve. Obesity, lack of fitness, poor nutrition, at risk behaviors and low coping skills for dealing with stress and social and emotional issues are not adequately targeted for reform. Without these factors being more fully addressed, the continued effort to increase services will eventually bankrupt the system, and leave the population remaining unprepared to take adequate personal responsibility to improve their own health. There are powerful evidence based approaches for supporting people to become more responsible for and successful in achieving improvements in their own health and well being. These types of knowledge, support, and culture should be embedded in the very fabric of our communities as well as in the health care system. With proper support the innate capacity for personal wellness increases, and with it, the tendencies towards greater individual and collective resilience can be seen. In addition there is a complementary science and art for creating healthy communities which generate a flourishing of society that is greater than the sum of the healthy individuals within it.

Unleashing these capacities in our communities should comprise up to half of the health care reform equation because this approach would create healthier communities, greater individual health and well being, be sustainable and effectuate reduced demand of health care services. Unfortunately wellness self management and healthy communities currently receive perhaps one percent of the attention in health care reform and less than that of the available funding.

Representatives of virtually all of the groups in Utah working on wellness self management including those involved in private sector programs, public health, health provider groups, and research convened in a summit meeting in Salt Lake City to begin to collaborate. They achieved perhaps for the first time universally shared Consensus Principles in this area, identified many best practices for evidence based approaches, and agreed on a common phrase for their shared work: pursuing healthy communities through “wellness self management.”

They have formed the Healthy Communities Wellness Self Management Network. The HC WSM Network will first of all be attempting to change the narrative around health care reform and bring attention to this “crisis beyond the health care reform crisis.” It challenges the people and leadership of the State of Utah to come to better recognize their own capacities for welness self management, the creation of healthier communities and for all of us to better come to grips with our own responsibilities in this regard. The Network is also becoming an active learning community, interconnecting existing programs and projects. It will support new demonstration projects and public policy which reflect Consensus Principles and evidence based approaches to wellness self management and healthy communities.

The people of the State of Utah are invited to join with members of the Healthy Communities Wellness Self Management Network and endorse the following Declaration:


Whereas, we pride ourselves in Utah on our spirit of self reliance and personal responsibility as well as our strong sense of community; and

Whereas evidence based principles and approaches of wellness self management and patterns of healthy communities have been established; and

Whereas, health care reform in Utah and the rest of the United States to date has tended not to emphasize such principles, approaches and patterns.

NOW THEREFORE: It is hereby resolved:

It is time for us to step forward and achieve healthy communities and wellness self management in Utah in a way that dramatically transcends all prior approaches to health care reform and unleashes our individual and collective capacities for creating the healthiest people and communities in the Nation and the World.

In doing so, we will cooperate extensively among the entire health care system together with communities, schools, businesses and other concerned organizations to institute and extend the means necessary to achieve a significant reduction in demand for health-care services through greater individual and community-wide responsibility.


At November 4, 2009 at 11:45:00 AM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so very true. But the US Medical schools lie to their students when they teach that only chemical medication is the best treatment.

My 20 year old granddaughter had a colonoscopy due to chronic bleeding. They found her entire intestinal tract was full of inflamation, swelling, and ulcerated spots. Yet when asked, her doctor said it had nothing to do with what she was eating and she should not worry about her intake of food. As a young mother of a one year old, she could not cope with her health in that mess.
She began to eat better and got quite a bit of relief from her symptoms of bleeding, pain and fatigue. Now, she eats carefully and her life is much more managable and happy.


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