Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A holistic approach to health in Sudbury. (Part 1)

Our publicly funded health care system is a wonderful system, unfortunately it has a few flaws that need to be addressed. Currently our health care system focuses on treating symptoms as opposed to preventions and cures. For more than a decade there has been a doctor shortage in Sudbury and other parts of Canada. Currently we only have Allopathic Primary Practitioners (Medical Doctors) covered under OHIP; we do not have the option under OHIP to seek medical care from a Holistic Primary Practitioner (Naturopathic Doctor). We only have the choice of what Medical Practitioners are available (taking patients) and covered by OHIP, unless you are willing to pay a second time (remember you already paid your taxes for this service) to see an Alternative Practitioner! We also have no choice but to receive medical procedures that are covered by OHIP when other proven holistic methods are available but again not covered by OHIP. This is where some of our habits of treating instead of preventing & curing come from. Our current Government fails to find true solutions to these problems.

There is a solution that will address both of these major problems. There are approximately 118 Family Physicians in Sudbury (primary health care practitioners). What our government forgets and many people don’t realize is that we could add to these numbers and relieve Doctor’s patient loads and give people more choices. Naturopathic Doctors are trained just as well as Family Physicians: they are trained to be primary health care practitioners; and, they need 3 years of pre-med sciences at University, followed by an additional 4 years at an accredited school of Naturopathic Medicine and must continue their education in “Continuing Medical Education (CME)” on an ongoing basis or loose their license (Family Physicians don’t require continuing education to practice medicine).
As of 2007 Naturopathic Medicine is now transitioning from the Drugless Practitioners Act to be regulated under the Health Professionals Act. Although their methods may be different they still rely on modern science and have much of the same education as a family doctor. Yet they are still not covered by OHIP. Naturopathic doctors could take on patients who would prefer a more natural and gentler approach to their health care. Canadians who pay taxes to cover their health care shouldn’t be denied a choice. Currently in Sudbury there are 6 Naturopathic Doctors, in Ontario there are 753, in Canada there are 1353.
Naturopathic Doctors are not the only solution to our doctor shortage in the North. There are many other practitioners that are currently not covered by OHIP that could relieve the number of the patients in line at a clinic, doctor’s office or hospital. Chiropractors, Nutritionist/Dieticians, Optometrists, Dentists, Massage therapists, Acupuncturists and more. Although many of the above specialize in certain areas and are not primary practitioners they can still benefit Sudburians if they were covered by OHIP. A perfect example is a patient who has a sciatic nerve and has to have invasive surgery to correct the problem. Many surgeries for this same problem can be avoided by receiving Chiropractic treatment instead. Unfortunately, many people cannot afford to see a Chiropractor on an ongoing basis nor does their insurance cover the whole cost of treatment so their condition worsens and they have to go for surgery instead. Many people line up in clinics, and doctors offices to receive pain medication, much of which is addictive and hard on the liver for back pain and headaches. “Studies also suggest spinal manipulation may be effective for headache and other spine-related conditions, such as neck pain”(Mayo Clinic, Book of Alternative Medicine, 2007). By covering Chiropractic care under OHIP we can minimize the need for surgery, diminish the line-ups for pain meds and give patients, who have already paid for healthcare through their taxes, a choice.
Type II Diabetes can be managed and even cured with lifestyle changes especially dietary; although Doctors have some education in nutrition they are not experts. Diabetic patients should be seeing experts in this field but unfortunately the experts “Nutritionist/Dieticians” are not covered under OHIP therefore the Diabetic patient cannot seek the proper treatment and has to rely on the basic information their doctor may or may not have and may eventually become insulin dependent (something that could have been avoided by dietary changes and lifestyle changes). These are just a few examples.

To be Continued...
Dana Clark
Organzation Chair, Sudbury Federal Green Party Association
Secretary, Sudbury Green Part of Ontario Constituency Association.

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