With January 2014 upon us, the United States is focused on further implementation of its’ National Health Reform or Obamacare. Related to the reform is much discussion regarding its’ benefits, issues, concerns, costs, and coverage. The news permeates nearly every aspect of the media. But what we don’t consider is the ‘bigger picture’ and that is about the need for ‘Global Health Care Reform.’
Concepts included in our Health Care Reform such as ‘full health care insurance coverage for children up to age 26’ is not a topic even remotely considered in most of the world! It is not discussed, considered, or even conceptually understood in much of Africa, India, Middle East, Pacific Isles, and beyond. Health Care concerns goes ‘far more basic!’
The need for ‘Global Health Care Reform’ should be a vibrant social concern. Health Issues (Author: Anup Shah / Sept. 22, 2011) Wrote of a variety of global health issues. The issues included are:
• One billion people lack access to any health care systems.
• 36 million deaths are from non-communicable diseases as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and lung disease.
• Over 7.5 million children die of malnutrition.
• Over 6.7 million people die from infectious diseases.
• Aids/HIV continue to spread rapidly throughout the world.
• Tuberculosis kills 1.7 million people a year.
• 1.6 people a year die from pneumonia.
• Malaria causes 780,000 deaths annually.
• 164,000, mostly children under 5 year, die of measles.
Other alarming increases in world health problems include: Obesity, use of tobacco, Alzheimer’s disease, contaminated water, and use of dangerous ‘street’ drugs!
Any good news? Yes, most of these diseases and unhealthy lifestyles can be readily addressed! But ‘hope’ is not ‘strategy!’ Many organizations such as: WHO – World Health Organization; the United Nations; and even private organizations such as the International Rotary Club, the International Kiwanis Club and most major Church denominations have stepped up to take positive and specific actions. What might be missed is to more effectively coordinate those actions; report on the positive accomplishments being made; and to garner massive support and interest throughout the world!
The media is quick to report on the negative such as terrorism, bombings, mass murder, but slow, if ever reporting on citizens of the world helping citizens of the world. Global Health Reform is a great place to start effective reporting. Maybe we also need Global News Media Reform?!!
Shortages of physicians, astronomical increases in the cost of healthcare, the ‘Silver Tsunami,” lack of skilled caregivers, funding cutbacks, onerous regulatory climate, lack of technological inter-facing, and the list goes on and on of the roadblocks to quality healthcare for our aging population. You’ve heard bits and pieces of this for a long time. It’s in our societal makeup that in order for a topic to become newsworthy it needs to project hurt, harm, anger, or danger.
When well researched data and empirical evidence points to the ‘positive’ and, in direct opposition to what is validated as newsworthy, we hear little of the ‘good news’ of the future of healthcare, especially in quality senior healthcare and those who will provide that care.
Robyn I. Stone, researcher for LeadingAge, has a far different perspective. She suggests four challenging trends for the future.
1) Increasing Diversity: By 2050 only 58% of our elderly will be white, with the remaining 40% represented by Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians.
2) Growing Health Needs: 45% of older adults have chronic conditions. 70% of 80+ year olds have issues with mental health or substance abuse.
3) Financial Insecurity: 70% of 70 year olds (77% of 80 year olds) depend on social security for at least 50% of their income.
4) Regional Differences in Aging: Rapid growth in the aging population is particularly found in states like Texas, Georgia, Florida, and Arizona. Older people in cities like Charlotte, NC and Dallas, TX will be wealthier and healthier, than in states of the Northeast and the Midwest. These differences will require ‘customized’ programs for older adult healthcare.
Ms Stone then suggests that the quality of leadership she witnesses in LeadingAge leaders (LeadingAge is a large association of not-for-profit, senior healthcare organizations throughout the United States) brings hope that these challenges will be addressed in the future.
What are the attributes she sees in our leaders which elicits hope for the future?:
1) Intellectual curiosity.
2) A ‘can do’ attitude.
3) A strong commitment to alter organizations to meet the challenges of the future.
I believe true leaders are selfless, well read, articulate, and have a strong humility which allows that the skills of those around them to be developed and encouraged to move boldly forward.
*[Much of the information shared was provided by Robyn I. Stone, Dir. of Research, LeadingAge – Wash. D.C. in her article entitled: “210 Reasons to be Hopeful about the Future of Aging Services” Nov 13, 2013]
Are we citizens of a nation truly in turmoil? Are we lead by ‘the enemy’ who of course is anyone who doesn’t agree with us? What is happening to us? Consider these: National Health Care Reform / ‘Obamacare’ consequences and unintended consequences; Sequestration-forced reductions; Demands and counter-demands of the US House of Representatives versus the US Senate; John Boehner versus Harry Reid; Tea Party versus The Progressives; ‘Continuing Resolution’ government funding going unresolved creating a ‘limited’ government shut-down; World War II Memorial Park closures; Debt ceiling limit issues; Protecting, expanding, or retracting government entitlement programs; all this controversy, and more, is helping to create a national culture of distrust, angst, fear, miscommunication, and intolerance! Are our elected governmental officials, en masse, approaching malfeasance-in-office?
Some might feel that we are becoming helpless spectators, simply watching our nation lowering itself to having virtually no moral, ethical, or spiritual ‘standards’ in all matters governmental. The current atmosphere is alarming, frustrating, and tiresome. Seems there is no light at the end of this tunnel, only more tunnel!
But wait . . . Maybe there is something we can do! Maybe instead of demanding someone else to change, maybe we need to change! Maybe we need to set a better example! Maybe we need to carefully, graciously, enthusiastically participate in open and heart-felt discussions where we do more active listening than active talking? Maybe we need to first assume the good intent and mutual decency of others? Maybe we need to find the common ground? Maybe we need to elect officials who represent the voter before the party? Maybe we need to consider ‘moral character’ and not just elect ‘characters?’ Maybe being prayerful is appropriate? Maybe being a ‘winner’ doesn’t mean beating the opponent, but rather advancing a principle? Maybe being articulate is better than being loud? Maybe the prize can be compromise? Maybe we need less party leaders and more national statesmen and stateswomen?
Maybe these changes go beyond the reference to Washington DC, and should include how we treat the strangers we meet? Our neighbors? Our friends? Our family?
So what’s the plan so that I may change? I would suggest baby steps. I would suggest we take this one day at a time! I suggest we consider these ‘Reiki’ principles / prayer:
Just for today, I will not be angry.
Just for today, I will not worry.
Just for today, I will be grateful.
Just for today, I will do my work honestly.
Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.
-Dr. Mikao Usui