Health for All – a Community based perspective

Last night, I was rummaging through my files, looking for a backup disk to restore the blog files on my website (didn’t find), when I came across an old collection of papers from my Community Health class at NIAOM in 1998. I pulled out the folder, sensing possible relief in my writer’s block for this blog.

The first paper I looked at was my written reflections on “Health for All”, which was a WHO initiative promulgated in 1977…”a vision of the univeral attainment by the year 2000 of a level of health enabling socially and economically productive lives by everyone.”

Being somewhat familiar with the U.N.’s role in partnering with the World Bank to create huge dam development projects without apparent regard for the massive harm caused to indigenous communities, I expressed my skepticism of any government led project which was long with moral imperatives, but short on actual track record.

Indeed, within the Health for all Vision Statement, I perceived hints of the contradictory logic which ultimately bungles such big government solutions to social needs better addressed at the local level.  On the one hand, there was clear recognition that “health starts at home.” On the other hand, we are told to “entrust the State with the development of a health system that meets their needs.

Which brings us to the debate on national health insurance, single payer, or whatever the current buzz word is. Mostly, I have stayed out of the discussion. Not much will change, as long as government is controlled by corporate based medicine – that is businesses owned by shareholders whose first (only?) mandate is profits. I have better things to do with my time than get mired in a debate where both sides are not seeing how stuck they are within the current unsustainable paradigm (profits before people). 

Which brings me back to my potentially lost CommuniChi blog files. Actually, the server techs are telling me the 140 or so blogs Serena and I have written are still intact – it’s just that there is a missing file that prevents the proper layout. It’s a mild bummer. Worse case scenario is that I’ll have to pay someone to rebuild the blog layout, but having a blog is not the linch pin of a community acupuncture clinic. Words are important, and can serve to inspire, but actions ultimately speak louder.  Are our actions in line with our words?

Community acupuncture works because it is a low cost solution to people’s health care needs independent of the sprawling and wasteful medical system which keeps getting more and more expensive with diminishing positive outcomes. Community acupuncture is locally based. Except for the needles and the cotton balls….the waste stream/carbon footprint of this way of doing business is tiny. Fewer words, more action, time to stop and get to work!

river Jordan
Author: river Jordan

After graduating from the Northwest Institute of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine in 1997, I had a hobby practice for a few years before moving to Northern India to study Buddhism. During this time, I volunteered in a local clinic, giving acupuncture to Tibetan refugees and Indian nationals. <p> Returning to the U.S. in 2002, I started a typical insurance based acupuncture practice catering to the upper middle class. In 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, I volunteered with <a href="" target="_blank">Acupuncturists Without Borders</a>, using community style acupuncture to treat trauma victims in a natural disaster setting. </p> Inspired by the power and efficacy of acupuncture in a post-disaster setting, I began to contemplate issues of socioeconomic class. What could be done to make acupuncture accessible to everyone and still provider a livable wage for an acupuncturist? After attending WCA's first conference in October of 2006, I had found the answer to that question. In January 2007, together with my partner Serena Sundaram, we founded <a href="" target="_blank">Communichi</a>, Seattle's first dedicated community acupuncture clinic. <p> As a Buddhist, I believe that healing begins in the mind. As the positive qualities of wisdom and compassion are cultivated in the mind of a practitioner, this...

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