Daniel Calahan of the Hastings Center
Developing countries facing ‘medical scourge of developed nations’
Researchers have said that chronic illness, already a problem in developed world, is now also being problematic for developing countries.
Developing countries also face problems in affording the costly medical technologies that wealthy countries use to treat chronic conditions, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, pulmonary disease, and diabetes, writes Daniel Callahan, cofounder of The Hastings Center.
Daniel Callahan, cofounder of The Hastings Center examines this trend and concludes that it calls for a new, more economically sustainable model of medicine.
The causes of the increase in chronic disease in developing countries are changing diets, particularly an increase in meat and processed food consumption, alcohol consumption, smoking, and less physical activity. But chronic illness in these areas has some distinctive characteristics.
Totally neglected is the model of medicine underlying that care. “That model values unlimited medical research and technological innovation: there is no such thing as enough health or medical progress. More, always more,” says Callahan.
“But it is just that model that driving up health costs here and all the less helpful to poor countries. It is the goals of medicine itself that most needs reform.”
He proposes a new set of goals for medicine, applicable to both rich and poor countries, which he calls “sustainable medicine.” It is a) affordable for a country in the long run; b) no longer open-ended in its life-extending aspirations, aiming instead for a limited but acceptable population-based average length of life; c) able to keep annual health care costs at the level of the country’s annual gross domestic product growth, and d) can be equitably distributed.
The article has been published in the Brown Journal of World Affairs.