Rights and Responsibility in Healing – Philosophy of Healing

Majid Ali, M.D.

A Letter to President Obama Concerning National Health Corps

In the early 2009, a friend asked me what crucial issues would I choose to bring to the attention of President Obama concerning health reforms. I did not think any politicians would be really interested in the views of a practicing integrative physician, notwithstanding their publically stated positions. Still I thought about the matter. Here are my priorities:

Q: What do you think are the major health issues facing Americans?

A: I see five core problems:

1. Authentic information about clinical nutrition, environmental medicine, and stress/anger is suppressed—for children, adults, and senior citizens;

2. Scientifically sound and empirically validated approaches to wellness are not fostered— indeed, they too are suppressed;

3. Preoccupation with a single disease blinds judgment concerning the care of an individual as a whole;

4. Safe, effective, and inexpensive remedies are not given a chance prior to the use of expensive scanning, diagnostic procedures, and hospitalization; and

5. Effective nutritional support, environmental measures, and stress reduction, are not available during recovery from acute illness, so setting the stage for relapses and expensive re-hospitalizations.

Q: What do you see might be a workable approach that can be adopted concurrently with other options under consideration?

A: An all-voluntary effort “National Health Corps” patterned after President Kennedy’s Peace Corps program.

Q: Can you cite an example of an effective all-voluntary program in progress at present?

A: Yes. WBAI radio in New York City (non-commercial, listener-sponsored) is currently conducting a program designated the WBAI Radio Obesity-Diabetes-Hypertension Initiative. To date, this initiative has trained volunteers from 35 neighborhoods to serve as team facilitators for a community program of education, motivation, and mentoring. Over 300 individuals have completed or are completing WBAI’s program. I serve as the director of this program.

Q: How might a national all-voluntary program work?

A: Americans are a compassionate and resourceful people. In the past, they resolved grave problems with massive citizens’ efforts. The country has a sufficient number of civic leaders, teachers, and integrative clinicians willing and able to develop and implement an all-voluntary “National Health Corps”—drawing on the experience of the Peace Corps—but robustly protected from the corporate influences of the American “medical-industrial complex.”

Q: How long would it take to produce measurable results?

A: Within three years, if not sooner.

Q: What would be the role of the federal government in establishing all-voluntary National Health Corps?

A: I recognize the following initial steps:

1. Presidential patronage and support of the concept of the Corps

2. Appointment of a Presidential Commission to conduct a feasibility study of the Corps.

3. Implementation of a prototype (possibly expanding the existing all-voluntary program at WBAI radio in New York),

4. Organization of other all-voluntary programs as components of National Health Corps in other media markets, and

5. Formulation of plans to integrate components of National Health Corps in nation’s school systems.

Rights and Responsibility

I end this short article by making one other crucial point. No discussion of rights can be considered authentic if equal concerns are expressed about responsibility. In my view, the treatment of acute diseases must be considered as a society’ responsibility. By contrast, disease prevention and the reversal of chronic disease with nutritional, environmental, and self-regulatory measures primarily is the responsibility of th individual.

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