WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT HEALTH?
God’s plan for Eden was perfect alignment of all things including health. We believe that when the right conditions are in place God wants to restore this level of health in our province.
Even after the fall of man God is clear about his desire for health:
Psalm 103:2-4 Praise the Lord, O my soul, and not all his benefits, who forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion…
Exodus 15:26 If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians for I am the Lord who heals you
3 John 1:2 I pray that you enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well
As much as 75% of physical illness has no clear physiological basis. This speaks to the importance of mental, emotional and spiritual health to which the bible speaks extensively:
Proverbs 23:7 For as a man thinks so he is
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are as honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones
Proverbs 12:25 An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up
Philippians 4:6, 7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ
Luke 23:34 Father forgive them, for they know not what they do
Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones
Matthew 7:1 Judge not that you be not judged
1 John 4:18 There is not fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear
Improvements in lifestyle, especially physical activity, diet, reduced alcohol consumption and smoking cessation would significantly reduce levels of chronic health problems. The bible speaks extensively to these topics:
Proverbs 23:2 And put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite
Proverbs 25:27 It is not good to eat too much honey…
• There is much more that could be added regarding what the bible says about health.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT REALITY ABOUT OUR HEALTH?
• The healthcare system is full on competent and hard working management and staff yet there are significant problems with peoples’ health and with healthcare services.
• When you look objectively at the money spent on healthcare and the resulting impact on services and health outcomes the picture is at the very least alarming.
• The healthcare system is huge and complex. When Medicare began it was primarily an insurance to prevent financial hardship from serious illness and hospitalization. The healthcare system has grown without any master plan but with a series of ad hoc additions. This approach resulted in lack of coordination and communication, over testing, inappropriate and overuse of drugs which is costly, wasteful and often ineffective. In 2010 Canada will spend $191 Billion on healthcare services. In spite of this annual spending of $5,700 per person (every man, woman and child) there continues to be serious problems with peoples’ health.
• Healthcare spending as a percentage of the provincial budget has increased from 25% to over 40% and this percentage continues to grow each year. Healthcare costs continue to grow at 6-8% annually while the economy grows at less than half that rate. As a result every year healthcare consumes a greater share of the provincial budgets. Funding for healthcare services uses 75% of all new government expenditures leaving little room for other priorities.
• Healthcare services contribute only about 15% to your overall health status. Other factors such as lifestyle, environment, social supports, income, genetics, etc, contribute the other 85% to your quality of health. As more money is spent on healthcare services there is less money to be spent on the other areas that contribute to your health.
• As a result of healthcare mistakes approximately 20,000 people die annually in Canada (250,000 in the U.S.), while a much larger number are harmed.
• Chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems, arthritis and cancer are largely the result of lifestyle issues (such as lack of exercise, diet and obesity, smoking). Up to 85% of these diseases can be prevented with lifestyle changes. These and other chronic illnesses cost us between 60-70% of $191 Billion annual healthcare spending. Yet there is little support from the healthcare system to help people avoid and manage chronic illness. The potential to improve health and reduce costs is tremendous.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE?
• When you consider the analysis above it seems clear some things are very wrong in the healthcare system. We, in the developed world have been fooled into thinking that healthcare services are what make us healthy. This must change to allow for positive, more rational change to take place. We must reclaim what has been stolen in terms of health, finances and thinking.
• Individuals must be supported in reclaiming power and authority over their own health.
• Creativity and innovation need to be released over people’s health, healthcare and government removing barriers to change.
• Leaders must step forward in the public, government and healthcare who honestly acknowledge the currently reality but provide hope for change to take place.
• We must reclaim the wasted and inappropriate use of finances making way for better and more effective use of resources.
Tom Archibald, Saskatoon
Healthcare is a gift, one of those qualities in life of great value which we assume will always be present. Wholeness in health includes physical, emotional and mental wellness as well as spiritual for its effect on body, soul and mind. God, who is our Healer, cares intimately for our body, soul and mind as well as the system of healthcare. Wholeness includes the spectrum of ages from unborn to the aged, of concern from public awareness to all the varying challenges in health and the dying. We have a belief in Saskatchewan of equal opportunity for wellness and access to healthcare. One cannot buy health and on the other hand, can one refuse to provide health care because of money?
The severity of the depression of the ‘30s formulated the basis for our present day health care model. During these harsh years, the co-operative way of living became a survival method when there simply wasn’t enough to meet individuals’ needs. Out of our lean years when people discovered there was no substantial relationship between income and enjoyment of life, Tommy C. Douglas, a Baptist minister, recognized that community responsibility was necessary even when money was not available. Birthed out of dire straits, medicare became a model in Saskatchewan that led healthcare in Canada and became a model unique in the world.
In our present day, there are huge challenges facing our health care system. Our province changed as many moved from the farm and towns to the cities necessitating huge resourcefulness. One of the most controversial changes to the rural communities has been the closure of hospitals to become treatment centers and senior care homes. There are a high number of seniors in our towns but we are also now seeing a new trend of young families moving back to towns.
Northern communities also have specific needs to meet standards of health care and availability. The expanded role of the nurse has largely been the provision for treatment with medical teams rotating through centres. As northerners are trained for roles in health care they bring back greater understanding of health challenges unique to the north. Some of the possibilities being looked at are family wellness centres which incorporate addiction and parenting issues in the community utilizing family structure such as elders. Our highways and availability of first responders, even air ambulance can transport those needing acute care to larger centres with specialized facilities.
Perhaps the greatest present day hurdle is access into the system itself. Waiting lists for procedures, availability of physicians and organizational ruts all contribute to a system which seems to serve the provider before the patient. While the medical care in the province is excellent, the ability to access specialized care within a reasonable time limit can be troublesome. There have been some excellent reviews done to address this issue at what is a waste to time and money and essential in critical reorganizing. But the appetite for change is a challenge to many when they find their health threatened and in a place requiring immediate care.
One can address specific aspects of the healthcare crisis we are presently in but there is another way to engage in the discussion with a view from a God who cares deeply for His children. Compassion has been a core value of many in the healthcare profession, with a goal to reflect the heart of Father God who is moved by the helpless and suffering. The advocacy role to protect, to empower and to intervene motivate many to serve their fellow human beings but often they themselves feel stuck in the machinery of healthcare, caught between expectation and efficiency for their clients.
If those who work in any aspect of healthcare, who know God and are called by His Name each “own” the space they work in to bring His light into the area they have influence, we would see a profound change for the better. If God’s people would pray for those who make decisions in each health district, on health boards, hospital boards and administration would we not see wisdom released for each challenge, creativity and grace for solving each problem? If salt has lost its flavour, it is useless and so are we if we do not carry the light of His presence as salt.
We serve a God who has strategic answers, wisdom and understanding of our times. As we look to Him on behalf of those who have authority, we will see His creativity at work. Saskatchewan’s health quality counsel is excellent, the first province to have such a counsel and leading the country in this aspect. As God’s people take position at the healthcare gate as ones who pray with authority, deciding what is allowed in and what cannot enter, we will pray for earthly counsel to be influenced by heavenly wisdom and authority.
Joanne Lepp, Regina