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Health

Many of the blog entries on this website relate to health. And when I say ‘health’ I am thinking of its broadest definition. The WHO (World Health Organization) is helpful here, defining health in 1948 as: ‘… a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’

I think it’s fair to say that life is not as enjoyable if health is compromised. So it must also be fair to say that our health should be a priority for those who lead us.

However, a report out in the UK analyzing drug prescription patterns suggests that if health is among the ambitions of our political, corporate and other leaders, then they are failing miserably.

Researchers found that:
  • 50% of women and 43% of men in England had taken at least one prescribed medicine in the week before interview
  • 24% of women and 22% of men had taken at least three prescribed medicines in the week before interview
  • 18.7 prescription medicines were dispensed per head of population on average in 2013
  • Nearly 20% of women in economically deprived areas took antidepressants.

Some commentators have said that this isn’t necessarily all bad news. Some of the drugs taken reflect an aging population (people are living longer) and the fact that medicines are now available which tackle previously untreatable conditions or which do things like lower cholesterol (statins).

I accept that. But I am shocked that the UK’s healthcare system (the National Health Service) has a cost from its total £100bn budget of £15bn on prescribed drugs.

I am also shocked by the fact that the report found 11% of women on antidepressants. This surely reflects a society and culture where people do not have the education… or culture… or time and money… or incentives and motivation to fulfill their potential and - at a more basic level - to eat and exercise properly. A society which puts value on the wrong things, like material wealth rather than spiritual well-being.

This is something all leaders need to think about. Otherwise, what’s the point?


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