Making ‘health’ healthier in 5 painful shifts – by Cormac Russell

Shift #1

Health is a political issue. If we are to see global health improvement, then we need to shift the conversation from ‘medical problems’ to ‘political’ and ‘communal’ issues.

We can’t therefore meaningfully speak about health improvement without also speaking about environmental, democratic, and economic improvements.

Shift #2

Action towards health improvement must lead away from an almost total dependency on professional interventions and tools, toward community-building and citizen action. 

Health is not a product of health systems but of humanness interacting with itself, its environment and its economy.

Shift #3

As community building as a tool for health improvement gathers momentum, the medical system should lead by stepping back…but will it?

Like all systems, the medical system must consider the harm it does in expecting people to organise themselves and their ailments the way the system organises itself.The medical hegemony often inoculates itself against again solving the problems it was set up to solve.

Shift #4

Mobilising to grow healthfulness in our communities will demand some level of relinquishment by the medical system of the resources and ground it currently claims for therapeutic purposes. 

Resources need to flow towards the domain of greatest health producing competence: citizens organised in communities. In essence, this means that even if a small portion of medical system budgets were reinvested in community building and away from medical intervention, huge savings should result and significant harm to social capital averted.

Shift #5

Health is not something we bring to people; it is the net result of a community coming together to use what it has to secure what it needs, including medical systems when required.

Cura te ipsum (Physician, heal thy self!)

Cormac Russell


Website –

*The opinions expressed are the bloggers own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Health Innovation Summit.

Twitter @HIC2016

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