The Hubris and Tyranny of Western Medicine & Big Pharma
While many countries under Western influence have been made to generally believe that Western medicine is the "most advanced, scientifically proven be-all and end-all of proper medical care", the real truth is that it is merely one of three major schools of medicine, the other two being the traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic disciplines.
And while it is true that Western medicine is perhaps the most structured, formally documented, taught and established and certainly excels in some aspects such as surgery and technology, there are also many aspects in which it is deficient and inferior to the other two branches.
Perhaps a brief look into the origins of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine may provide some enlightenment. Though both may have differing and rather esoteric explanations about the functions of the human body, they are similar in the sense that they have a more holistic approach, diagnosing and treating ailments as a function of the entire body and mind as compared to the Western approach which is more centered on the particular ailment itself. They are also more focused on natural/herbal medication and their inter-actions rather than processing ingredients and creating synthetic ones in the lab.
The origins of both disciplines predate that of Western medicine by at least a couple of thousand years. Knowledge was passed on through the Eastern tradition of master-student and refined through many centuries of actual use.
Efficacy was in part guaranteed by the penalty of death for those unfortunate enough not to have saved their royal patrons, thus giving a far greater incentive for finding the right cure than monetary reward.
One of the most remarkable differences between Western medicine and Chinese medicine is in the manner of diagnosis.
At least in my country, if you consult a Western-oriented and trained doctor, the first thing you do is tell them your ailment. The doctor may then make a cursory examination of your tongue, throat, eyes and take your blood pressure (or just simply look at you).
Especially when they are not sure what your ailment is, to justify the consultation fee that seems the paramount consideration for many these days, they will more often than not simply write an antibiotic prescription in a "shotgun" approach, hoping that will do the trick or that you may recover on your own.
You will then be asked to come back in two weeks so that the doctor can declare you cured or so that he can correct his diagnosis or treatment if he was wrong. Of course, this merits another consultation fee.
If the illness seem a bit more serious and particularly if the patient can afford it or has health insurance, he might ask you to have yourself undergo whatever tests they can think of to ascertain your condition. This will not really diagnose your illness but simply confirm if the doctor's diagnosis is right or wrong. If he is wrong then you will be asked to take even more tests, paying even more consultation and test fees as well as for medication each time until he gets it right!
This is not to say that all of them are that way, There are certainly many well-trained and knowledgeable doctors of Western medicine. The problem is finding the right one as well as being able to afford them.
That is why I almost fell out of my chair the first time I consulted a "real" (as in formally trained) traditional Chinese doctor about 20 years ago. He was quite young and seemed to have actually just graduated as he even had some textbooks with him. He also did not speak a word of English and needed to have an interpreter with him.
When I went up before him, without a word, he simply put two fingers on a spot in the palm of my hand to feel my pulse for about a minute or so. After some deep contemplation, he then gave his diagnosis to the interpreter to tell me what was wrong and wrote a prescription. I forget what it was exactly but it was actually spot on! I paid the quite modest consultation fees, took the prescribed Chinese medicines, promptly felt better and was totally cured after 3 or 4 days.
As me and my family are thankfully mostly in quite good health, I have not really had the chance to see him much except maybe a couple of times every few years for various minor ailments but it has always been the same over almost 20 years.
No tests, immediate relief and no repeat visits except for a stubborn skin allergy my wife got but which was also accurately diagnosed, treated and eventually cured.
Even my father-in-law who was dying of cancer was properly diagnosed and survived a bit longer than expected exactly the same way!
My only complaint is that Chinese medicines, which are based mostly on natural ingredients, are rather a bit tiresome to take as you might have to take 10 or 20 pills several times a day! :) However, that is a small price to pay for sure, effective and affordable treatment. Really a far cry from the prevalent Western-style medical practice.
I really have not encountered or tried Ayurvedic medicine but I would expect that it would be somehow similar in efficacy. After all, it is probably no coincidence that the most populous nations of the world are China and India!
Of course, this is not to say that Western medicine is totally inferior. Western medicine surely has it's great strengths too. Modern surgical procedures and techniques as well as the technology, equipment and devices that have been developed are unquestionably at the forefront of modern medicine and have been adopted even by practitioners of the other two disciplines. A mix of Eastern and Western would probably be the best option.
Unfortunately, while it is the formal structure, documentation and study of Western medicine that has allowed it to advance to the forefront of modern medicine, this is also apparently what has caused some questionable ethical and moral issues that have started to hound it in more and more instances. Unsurprisingly, it always seems to boil down to a question of money.
Somehow, it seems that Western medicine was going really great in the 50's to the 60's with advances in medical science appearing to uphold the strictest ethical and moral standards despite the technological and financial constraints of the time. Penicillin, the polio vaccine and even the heart transplants that were the hallmarks of the era seemed to herald a golden age of medicine.
While there were already established pharmaceuticals at the time, these were mostly based on one-hit wonders like aspirin for Bayer and other basic medications and vitamins for the others.
The success of the polio vaccine and penicillin gave birth to Big Pharma as we know it today.
Antibiotics first started the huge increase in profits. This raised interest in research and the resources to develop new concoctions to treat various ailments and the world was a better place.
Unfortunately when research started to be dictated and guided by the financiers and money men rather than by the more altruistic researchers, things started getting more complicated.
While the output certainly increased as a result of money being thrown at anything they could think of, the cost of research skyrocketed as talent and ingenuity started taking a backseat to corporate politics and a job/employee mentality.
The cost of research and how to recover it and make an ever larger profit became the primordial concern rather than the benefit of mankind. And the number of unsafe and disastrous cures foisted on an unsuspecting public gave rise to ever-stricter regulations that made R&D even more expensive!
But while the practitioners of the traditional Eastern medicines adopted the beneficial advances of the West, Western medicine became more and more caught up in its hubris, branding age-old, proven, natural and therefore UNPATENTABLE remedies which would compete with their own as "anecdotal", unscientifically proven and unsafe, if not illegal and fake!
Really? But then, why would anyone spend millions of dollars to prove that an UNPATENTABLE proven, age-old remedy was actually effective?
Thus, while tawa-tawa and papaya leaves are "anecdotally" sworn by to treat successfully dengue, the DOH has not lifted a finger after all these years to investigate and simply VERIFY the matter!
Another factor that stoked the greed of Big Pharma was the realization that vaccines were so much more profitable than developing cures for a disease.
After exhausting vaccination for the most debilitating and dangerous diseases such as polio and smallpox and DPT, rather than attempt to find cures for not so common diseases such as dengue, Big Pharma realized that the infinitely more profitable option would be to instead create vaccines for as many ailments they could think of.
Indeed, how could you compare the sales of a few dozen pieces of cheap medicine for a few thousand victims to mass vaccination for several millions? And even that might not be too bad if it was a one time thing.
However, the development of the flu vaccine, which was essentially just a promotional campaign, practically drove Big Pharma out of their wits with greed.
Imagine being able to vaccinate MILLIONS of people in the developed countries yearly because the mutations of the virus for something mostly curable and bearable, with a low fatality rate and which would probably affect only a few thousands anyway? It has in fact been discovered that the flu vaccine is for many reasons not really as effective as has been claimed. And what about the still-denied life-long disabilities of those who have suffered adverse reactions?
This wanton push to vaccinate the millions of people in the more advanced countries in the name of greed and profit has become almost farcical if it was not so dehumanizing. How is it that up to 22 or even more vaccines are now MANDATORY for INFANTS (!) in the "advanced" countries that can afford them?
Have all those vaccines really made a significant difference health-wise vis-a-vis the minimally vaxxed people of the world? How is it that a host of strange, previously unknown diseases and disabilities have mysteriously started afflicting these same countries almost exclusively during the same period?
And the bigger and more powerful Big Pharma gets, the more brazen it becomes. Apparently feeling the effect of stringent regulations on their bottom lines, Big Pharma has also been working on relaxing some of the mandatory research protocols in order to bring their products to market earlier.
The notorious Dengvaxia vaccine had not even completed stage 3 trials out of a formerly WHO prescribed mandatory 4 phase trial when it was allowed to be sold and tried out on 830,000 schoolchildren despite some unresolved safety issues!
And that is still not the end of the sins of Big Pharma!
The most intractable disease of the 20th century, as it still is today, although apparently for totally different reasons, was cancer.
Almost every other disease could somehow be treated with ever-increasing success except cancer which is still practically a death sentence in most cases.
As cancer seems to afflict even more of the rich than it does the poor or perhaps simply because the rich were willing to pay any price, no matter how outrageous, to be saved from the disease, it became probably the most researched disease for the past 50 years.
Still, the mainstream options have remained practically the same over decades with only incremental increases in survival rates: from surgery to radiation to the currently favored chemotherapy. A recent study claims that less than half of chemotherapy treatments are successful - with success measured at 5 years.
The one thing in common? All are outrageously expensive.
And despite many claims of new discoveries and treatments over decades, it is rather remarkable that almost none of them have ever gone beyond press releases.
Worse, medical practitioners who promote a more natural, holistic and affordable approach to treatment are immediately denounced and discredited as fakes and charlatans without so much as a peer review of their results.
As has been the ever more prevalent practice, anything that cannot be patented and monopolized must be ignored and demonized.
Even more alarming, not only have these advocates been the subject of harassment and abuse, quite a number of them, particularly in the US, have been suddenly found dead from suspicious causes.
In the Philippines, a LAW supposedly promoting alternative and natural medicine actually exists.
Yet, despite scrupulously fulfilling the legal requirements to practice, Dr Farrah Agustin-Bunch had her clinic raided by heavily armed authorities and closed on apparently concocted charges based on complaints of several medical societies to FDA authorities known to be closely connected to Big Pharma. These charges were supposedly based on a complaint by a "patient who died"!
The fact is, Dr. Bunch has been successfully treating even patients who have been practically been considered hopeless, as can be proven by a simple review of her records.
This arbitrary denial of her right to practice her profession and her patients' RIGHT TO CHOOSE their mode of treatment WITHOUT DUE PROCESS is clearly a malevolent action initiated by parties with ulterior motives rather than the protection of the general public.
Dr. Bunch is after all a licensed medical practitioner specializing in natural medicine with a track record that should have at least been thoroughly examined for malpractice BEFORE she was closed down. To simply claim that relatives of a patient who died complained as a justification for their actions is incredible! There would not be a single clinic or hospital open if that was the norm!
And even after she has been closed down, there has apparently been no effort at all to investigate further and find firm basis and evidence to support the action. Rather, all there has been is simple stonewalling and media bashing.
In the absence of more solid evidence aside from mere accusations, the only conclusion that can be made is that her successful treatments were beginning to seriously affect the bottom lines of some well-established and well-connected parties.
Given the recent developments, it would seem our firm belief in the ethics and morals of Big Pharma and their co-opted medical practitioners must be tempered with some amount of skepticism and consideration of other options.
While it may smack of conspiracy theory to speculate that they may somehow be party, if not already, then maybe in the near future, to a systematic program to control the world population, considering what has transpired in the past few years, it may not be as far-fetched as one might imagine.
(Credits for top photo montage:
left: wake-up world.com
top right: Philippine Daily Inquirer
bottom right: Dr. Farah Agustin-Bunch)