Current mainstream medical knowledge suggests that definitive treatment can be provided primarily by medications, although there are also viewpoints that advocate alternative medical options. No amount of change in socioeconomic circumstances, however, will alter the genetic makeup of an individual and so affluent or poor, if you have hypertension, the likelihood is that you will need treatment with tablets to keep your blood pressure under control.
The point? Communities and individuals of African origin can take action to reduce the negative effects of their health conditions. The task is to identify which conditions we can effectively do something about, what appropriate action can be taken to optimise our health outcomes.
This is why I am proposing health consultancy/advocacy to coordinate tactics and strategies by which individuals disadvantaged by their health/education/socioeconomics can be helped to improve their health outcomes. Progress in improving our health outcomes exists but a more coordinated, sustained effort is needed.
This will include education ‘tailored’ for those of the African diaspora individual, guidance through the maze of options available for management of health to seek the best options, the coordinating of support during health crises through direct and indirect means. Advocacy/consultancy would be provided by individuals who work for or have worked in the NHS and other health systems.
The ‘Cuban solution’ is also a complimentary approach that can be consciously applied in improving health outcomes of the African diaspora in UK. As the Rand Corporation points out, Cuba has done ‘…more with less…’ over the years by the following approach:
‘…Cuba prioritizes primary care and prevention and addresses social determinants of health…’
To partially explain, due to the trade barriers that have existed between Cuba and the United States of America (USA) over the years, US pharmaceutical firms have had less access to the Cuban market than elsewhere. Cuba has had to therefore develop health strategies that focus on ‘prevention’ rather than the current situation in mainland USA where the effective focus is on ‘cure’ – involving medications and other interventions with significant cost and profits to those firms.
The Cuban approach has been a successful strategy in keeping down costs to the Cuban government and has broadly improved the health outcomes of people. While it is not a perfect solution, it can be applied as one part of a multifactorial solution to our health outcomes in the UK but would not be achieved easily. Much work needs to be done but like all worthwhile things ‘…if u waan good u nose ha fi run…’, to borrow a Jamaican saying.
With upcoming articles, I will address the above conditions individually and in more detail and suggest some ways which maybe helpful in dealing with the conditions using my experience of medicine and inside knowledge of the way the NHS works.