Thursday, 19 November 2009

The shift in the perception of health

I had a meeting a couple of days ago with a representative of Swedish Haemophilia Society association. Chatting about various things he mentioned that he recently had been climbing in Nepal and that the team had been monitoring their oxygen levels. He rightly pointed out that in these times of swine flu of course their oxygen levels while climbing would had caused quite some concerns at an emergency ward. And then he ended in an: But of course we were all healthy people.

A totally natural comment for him but for me who knows that not only has he haemophilia but the treatment given to him in the 80th as a child also as a side effect gave him HIV this was a bit well it wasn’t what I expected to hear.

Haemophilia today at least if you receive treatment in line with the Swedish preventive strategy is just a chronic disease that needs regular treatment. Quite similar is the HIV situation. In Sweden. But if you live in other parts of the world and do not get the medicines you need it is very different. Without treatment each of these 2 diseases is deadly – your life expectancy is substantially shortened.

This might seem trivial but give it some thought what this shirt in perception of health means for our healthcare system. And what it means that the innovation in medicines have given to society. The achievements my friend has managed during in his case very active working life would never have been possible without new modern medication.

It should also makes me to seriously doubt the use of pan European measurement of self-reported health status as for example have been done by for example the Eurofounds European Quality of Life Survey database and the Eurobarometer 2009 on not the childrens but the parents view of their childrens health. It all comes down to subjective individual perceptions and cultural contexts. Not really comparable on a European level.

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