A NEW DEFINITION OF THE CONCEPT OF HEALTH
Tentatively outlined on many sides, and not fully developed yet, a new concept of health is maybe the most innovative element where traditional medicine plays a major role. “Health” is a term usually adopted to express the absence of pain and factors that hinder or limit the normal functions and activities that are expected, accepted or proposed by the human society. Since over a decade we are facing a new scenery in all advanced countries. Both users and health systems demand a conception of health assistance whose main criterion goes beyond the dichotomy between health and disease. More and more often the patient demands the recovery of health not simply in terms of cessation of diseases or symptoms but in terms of a state of physical and mental wellbeing that should support a better expression of the individual’s capacities. By emerging so powerfully, traditional medicine seems to be a fundamental component of this evolutionary process, helping to spot emergent needs and identify a new way to interpret the meaning of terms like patient, medicine, health and health assistance.
ISSUES AT DIFFERENT LEVELS
There is a heart-felt general request of an ecological medicine that narrows the space for invasive examinations and side-effects of surgical operations. We can predict the progressive definition of new scientific and cultural trends. The need to look upon the individual as an “integral unit” whose entity must be respected, has been widely expressed since long, while dissatisfaction has emerged for the actual fragmentation induced by the medicine based on specialties. Patients express the will to be protagonist of their health process, explicitly asking to be more involved in the understanding of their disease and the selection of therapeutic actions. This is the attitude that profiles a person as a user rather than a patient. The path taken with the informed consent seems not to be a satisfactory solution and meets none of these requirements.
Traditional medicine can significantly influence behaviours, ideas, organizations, on the strength of its unique nature and in the wake of the wide scope of issues it raises. Being able to indicate innovative paths of health assistance, it can envisage new prospects for health professions, new trends of work for doctors. It’s focused on making the doctor a multi-faceted professional figure. It stimulates the academic community to new debates and daring hypotheses of innovative internal restructuring. It pushes the scientific world to explore new paths and generate new theories. Obviously this trend is not free of contradictions and most of all is not painless. Yet for this very reason it raises the interest of international organizations such as the Council of Europe and WHO, whose mission devoted to the defence of human rights embraces the interest in the challenges raised by “new” feasible disciplines.
The present trend, in our view irreversible, is the research of new management criteria for the “modern health systems” that take into account the “new concepts of health prevention and promotion” and bring to a new definition and an extension of the classic health assistance. We can predict, as well as hope for, a dismantling of the health assistance structure by redefining the roles of by now fossilised professional figures, more and more unable to carry out the task of health protectors they should be. Medicine itself is becoming aware that its theoretical body is creaking for being supported by an inadequate scientific method, and, even more important and devastating, for the lacerating never dimmed contradictions between the assumptions that should inspire the medical practice and the finalities that this practice actually pursues; finalities that appear to be more and more detached from the genuine interest of man. A short-term settlement of these contradictions is not predictable, yet the pressing need of at least partial adjustments is obvious. Albeit partial, such adjustments cannot but underlie great changes for the users of this historical age. Within the scope of such changes, will Non-conventional Medicines find their own autonomous space? By giving their active contribution to this new trend, will they risk to be integrated in the vast reaches of medicine and be processed to the point of losing their inner nature?
The Paracelso Institute is committed to devoting all its resources and capacities to protect the development of traditional medicine and preserve its integral doctrinal peculiarities and its specific potential for the defence and recovery of health.