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Articles    H3'ed 9/1/10

Health Care Needs a Fundamentally New Approach

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The basis of health and the pathogenesis of diseases have subtle spiritual underpinnings necessitating an integrated mind-body-spirit model of health and disease. The importance of spiritual wellbeing of the patient, its influence on the mind and consequently on the healing process of the body have been highlighted by recent advances in psychoneuroimmunology. Disease management becomes more effective if the patient's own immune mechanisms are harnessed through the age-old "art of healing'. Medical education being a key input in disease management needs to be suitably modified to emphasize the central role of spiritual wellbeing and the value of the practice of meditation by the physicians themselves.

Modern medicine is at cross-roads. With further scientific developments modern medicine would continue to benefit from newer technologies. At the same time what is immediately required to improve the effectiveness of modern medicine and decrease health care costs would be to formally integrate the "art of healing' with the science of medicine. Incorporating the philosophy of mind-body-spirit medicine within the medical curriculum and health care structures would, in addition, place the job of the primary care physician at a higher level. Health care thus needs a fundamentally new approach to address the twin problems of escalation of costs and increasing neglect of primary care.

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Vijayaraghavan Padmanabhan is a Former Professor of Medicine at Madras Medical College, Chennai, India.

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