We need a new politics for health. Our medical and public health authorities were designed to keep infectious diseases at bay. We value their continuing vigilance and intervention. But what threaten us more are the mental and physical conditions that emerge through the interaction between our internal vulnerabilities and our lifestyles. Medical professionals work hard to combat these diseases too, but it is people themselves who can do much to improve their health. This reality shifts the balance from rights toward responsibilities since health now depends as much on the choices of individuals as the availability of health services.
As our life expectancy rises, so too does the possibility that we spend more years under medical care. Just as we are wondering whether the working age population can pay for the pensions of the retired, we are also questioning whether they can generate sufficient revenue to pay for the medical services of the sick. Politicians debate the design and funding of health services while our demand for these curative services persistently outpaces the resources available for them. The media fuelled frenzy of blame and point-scoring conveniently avoids too much discussion of the big picture. We fail to look more widely for answers.
Our Health supports the religious idea of subsidiarity, in which action is taken at the level closest to the people. Usually this idea is associated with care offered in families. Our Health cherishes positive family interdependence, but also welcomes a wider variety of supportive, intimate relationships. It casts doubt on the belief that professionalised social and health care is a sufficient model for wellbeing and supposes that health and healing needs relational care to be truly effective.
Our Health seeks to place the politics of health at the heart of the way we now live.