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Category: Health Care 26 Mar 06


We do it to children all the time. We help them make connections. We say: “If you stand on the edge of the cliff you could fall. If you don’t keep up with your coursework you will fail.”


Astonishing how we fail to make these connections ourselves. Every day, sick people shuffle into medical institutions feeling dizzy, out of breath, urinating too frequently, obese, on the verge of death. This is no news since this country is among those with the highest incidence of death from diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Scary stuff. But death stuff doesn’t smite us like an act of God. There is a connection between the stuff in your fridge and death from diabetes, a stroke and heart disease; between what we put in our mouths and the blocked heart; between our salt intake and hypertension; between starch and diabetes. If you eat fast food, red meat, butter, processed snacks, deep fried food, full fat mayonnaise, cheese, white bread and lard, and drink soft drinks loaded with acid and sugar and excessive alcohol, you will die.


There is a link between those seemingly innocuous brightly packaged snacks (which, if you look at the small print, surpass your requirement for salt, fat and preservatives for a month) and the sickness that takes you to the hospital and leaves you broke.


Maybe you never made the connection. If you do eat and drink this stuff, your fridge door should have a big warning on it: POISON, IF INGESTED CAN KILL.


But who is accountable if people whose job it is to make those connections fail to do so? What happens if the institutions in which they have shares, or out of which they operate, actively encourage you to eat poison?


Because that’s what happens. Every day hundreds of us, having eaten poisonous stuff in our fridges, troop to medical institutions to revive our failing organs. As we wait for our appointments we are tempted to partake of offerings in the private nursing homes from vending machines selling the same stuff that sent us in there in the first place: salt, fat, sweet, carcinogenous, processed snacks that send your cholesterol level and blood pressure skyrocketing. One private medical institution carries on a brisk business of selling deep fried fish and oil-filled coconut bake. We eat the poison they supply while we wait, on our way in or out. Then they charge us to fix us up. Good business.


The doctors take our pressure, check our hearts, read blood tests and pronounce our disease: They say, “your heart is failing, since your arteries are blocked up, and your cholesterol is way out of control,” or, “if you allow your diabetes to get out of control you could go blind, your legs will turn gangrenous, you will inevitably get heart disease.” They never say: “The poison in your fridge and our vending machines is killing you. If you eat fruit, grains, vegetables and fish you will live.”


They scribble drug prescriptions. Everybody is satisfied. The doctors make money as they arrange stress tests, angiograms, bypass surgeries, amputations; passing work on to one another worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Drug companies are elated as we run out to buy insulin, pressure tablets and antibiotics worth millions.


Occasionally we ask after a check-up, or an operation about our diet. “Eat normally,” the physician decrees says before hurrying you out. We go back to eating aloo pies and fatty cheese and don’t realise it’s killing us. Nobody is put out. Invariably, we return, worse off, to the doctor.


Even as family members wait for a surgeon to remove transfats during scary procedures like angioplasty, and open heart surgery from a patient who has spent a lifetime eating fatty food, the medical institution is selling the same fatty stuff to the waiting family and recovering patients. Something is horribly wrong. A link is not being made.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur