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(5) Health Policies Studies

Health policy - WHO

National health policies, strategies and plans

Health policy


Headline Health

To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.

Bertrand Russell

Take a look at these headlines, taken from a single day’s news.






And these are just the reputable ones. I’m not trying to pick on the news media. Hidden in these screaming headlines is some great information about your health. But what’s a person to do? Eat low-fat.

Don’t eat low-fat. Carbs are bad. Carbs are good. Take this drug. No, wait! It might kill you. Nobody’s counting, but I’d estimate that the average American sees or hears over twenty health stories a day.

It’s what I call headline health. Without someone to guide and advise you, it’s natural to try to take what you can from the information that you’re constantly blasted with.

But consumers are just getting plain burned out on headline health, and frankly, it’s no way to run a health care system. Michael Douglas, playing the title role in The American President, said, “In the absence of genuine leadership, people will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”

I think that’s the way most of us feel about our health. We know we need to take care of our health. We know it’s important what we eat, how much we weigh if we get the right tests. The thing is, there’s no one out there telling us how to do that. We aren’t taught about it in school. Our doctors aren’t really doing it. The government issues as many confusing statements as the next guy, so we’re taking our direction where we can get it-from the headlines. In effect, we’re drinking the sand.

It is my hope that this book can help you find a way through all of that. Once you’ve embraced the fact that you and you alone are in charge of your health and that you can make choices and take actions that affect how long you live and the quality of your life, I know you’ll find the strength to take on that challenge.

As I travel around the country, I am awed by the knowledge, motivation, and strength people demonstrate about their health. Like that woman on the cruise, people tell me stories of finding new treatments when nothing seemed to work, finding the determination to beat illnesses and manage conditions so they can lead full, happy lives. It’s incredibly inspiring to hear those stories and see how people are working and fighting to get all they can out of life.

So I hope I’ve answered the people who have asked me, “Why does it matter so much to you?” and I hope you understand why it has to matter so much to you.

Let’s Get This Party Started

In the following texts, you’ll find 8 Prescriptions for Life that will help you understand why we avoid dealing with our health. You’ll discover what’s essential to understanding your body and your health.

I’ll tell you how you can harness your Health Power to get good medical care, make positive changes in your life, and do what’s needed to protect your family. You’ll find these pages packed with useful tools, including evaluations to help you look at what motivates you as well as forms and checklists that will help you organise your health and understand exactly what you need to do. You’ll also find lots of unusual health facts I call Know Way!, along with Pop Quizzes to test your knowledge about your body and your health. My 5-Minute Clinics will give you quick tips you can use to protect yourself and stay healthy. Each prescription also comes loaded with resources such as Web sites and books you can use to get more information, find great doctors, or even give your memory a workout.

You’ll also read stories of people who, just like you and me, have struggled with their health, done battle in the health care system, and, many times, come out victorious. As a small note about those stories, with few exceptions, the names, identifying details, and even circumstances about the people I write about have been changed. While I believe that no health issue is anything to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, I also know that your health information is the most personal information you have, and I respect the privacy of those who have been kind enough to relate their stories to me.

So if someday we ever meet (and I hope we do), please tell me your health story. I love to hear them! And while I might use what you’ve accomplished to help others, your privacy will always be sacred.

So let’s get started taking these eight prescriptions and put them to work to give you the longest, healthiest, happiest life possible. Before you dive into Prescription 1, I’d like you to do a small warm-up exercise.

Life Priorities Audit

This Life Priorities Audit will help you think about how you view your health in relation to the other aspects of your life. It’s going to help you see where you place your feelings about your health in five life aspects: control, motivation, priorities, relationships, and spirituality.

There are no right or wrong answers to this audit. Remember, it’s all about you and how you feel about your health. This audit will help you answer other questions as you move through the 8 Prescriptions as well as evaluate your progress as you begin to feel more in control.

Conquer Your Fears

The Beginning of the End

Many books show you how to begin something: a diet, a business, a financial plan. These texts are about ending something: ending a passive approach to your most valuable asset-your health; ending the frustration you feel when dealing with doctors or anyone in our health care system; ending the fear that somewhere inside a disease is lurking, waiting to claim your well-being, your peace of mind, or your life, and you are powerless against it.

By picking up this book, you’ve made a life-changing decision. You’ve realised that your health is too important to leave up to somebody else. You know that in order to live the longest life you can, you’ve got to understand your own health, have a plan to protect yourself, and take charge of your health and your life.

The National Center for Educational Statistics says that five out of six people have only intermediate health literacy skills-the ability to understand health information and use that information to make decisions about our health and our life. Their study shows that very few of us are proficient when it comes to understanding our health.

And these results don’t seem to have much to do with our reading literacy or educational levels. We’re all stumped. The health information we’re given is too technical and filled with too much jargon. For example, to help us eat less salt, we have to scour the ingredients list on a can of green beans to find the sodium content. While we hear story after story filled with health scares, warnings, and advice, we have virtually no training, experience, or help on how all of this information can be used in our own lives to make us feel better and stay healthy. It’s this ignorance that keeps us from doing what we should be healthier and traps us in the darkness of fear about our health rather than the power of enlightenment.

Dave, a man who successfully battled cancer, described to me the effect this ignorance, early in his diagnosis and treatment, had on both his body and his mind: The worst part, truly the worst-more than nausea, losing my hair, fearing death-was not knowing, not understanding what was happening to me. Each time the doctor ordered a test or treatment, I’d spend the night before with cold sweats, dreading not only the procedure itself but even getting the results. And most of the time I didn’t even know why I was having the test at all. Once I decided to stop being ignorant and get information so I could understand everything that was happening to me-before it happened-most of my fear just evaporated.

Just knowing, understanding, asking questions and getting answers, empowered me in a way I never thought was possible. I felt better, more in control. I’m convinced it’s what made me get better. That fear of the unknown was eating at me, almost making me feel like just letting cancer win.

Face Your Fears

Everyone has fears about their health-we just don’t talk about them very often. Like all fears, they make us uncomfortable. They come from the dark recesses of our childhood and touch on topics that get at our very core: pain, suffering, loss of control, loss of loved ones, death.


What Are the Odds?

Mad cow disease:

1 in 40 million

Shark attack:

1 in 10 million

Struck by lightning:

1 in 576,000

Finding a four-leaf


1 in 10,000

Having a shaving


1 in 6,600

Catching a baseball

at major league game:

1 in 563

Having a stroke:

1 in 6

Developing diabetes:

1 in 3

It’s normal to feel uncomfortable talking about a health condition with someone who’s battling an illness. What do you say? What’s too personal? How do you show you really care and want to help?

Thankfully, we’ve moved away from the days when we would discuss someone’s condition with whispers and nods. But while we talk about the treatments and the trips to the doctor, we still tiptoe around the subject of our fears and our feelings. The Health Fears Appraisal, beginning on page 20, will help you examine your health fears in five key areas: your health, your family, your work, your health care team, and your financial matters. Answer these questions honestly to help you understand where your fears may be holding you back from living your healthiest, longest life.

I’m going to help you put an end to the fears and behaviours that keep you from feeling your best and may even shorten your life. You’ll learn to pull back the shutters on your fears, bring them out into the light, and separate what’s irrational from what’s real. I’ll give you simple steps you can take to be in control of your health. And most importantly, you’ll start breaking those bonds of ignorance, taking off the blinders, and finding the power to become an expert on your own health. Together, we’ll examine feelings about

• Fears about your health matters

• Your health power and perceptions

• Your doctors

• Your family’s health

• Your commitment to a healthy life

You’ll learn how to harness the positive power of those feelings to build a real-life plan you can use to begin your journey toward health, wellness, and happiness.



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