The blind men and the elephant

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We are at an extraordinary time in history. In some ways, it feels great to be alive to tell the story. Different facets of our society and economies seem to be in a state of rapid transformation where the redistribution of power and handing over of sovereign freedoms in some ways mirror the popular guard mounting ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

The last few decades (and more so from 2020), have seen the world sleepwalking through a slow, nefarious, and militarised medico-political revolution that has caused immense damage to our economic and societal stability. It showcased gross public health failures and human rights violations, the suppression of dissent and free speech, and even thoughts being branded as criminal activity. We have one world healthcare and the power grab by the World Health Organisation, the World Economic Forum, and the United Nations – along with central banking digital currencies, digital identities, AI, and climate change. It’s dizzying.

Interestingly, it does not have much to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the Ukraine-Russia war which are all serving as mere distractions in the background. The broader agenda appears to be global governance and control under the banner of public safety and well-being for the greater good of humanity.

Healthcare has, in particular, fallen from grace and is a mess. We need to seek answers as to when and where we went wrong and, most importantly, how. This article will focus on what I believe are some core aspects that have led to the gradual breakdown of our global public health and healthcare systems. This is not an ‘expert’ or a third-party opinion but the ground view from a practising family doctor.

Apathy, with decay in medical knowledge and skills

Over the last 50 years, what seemed to be an undertow and whisper in medical discussions and forums has become a chant getting louder by the day. The apathy that has smitten the profession is beyond description and who else better to notice this than the disgruntled public screaming for change? But the answer? Crickets. Western medicine is unfortunately adulterated, dying, and in palliation. It desperately needs resurrecting.

The late Dr David Sackett, considered by many as the father of evidence-based medicine, stated that half of what doctors learn in medical school will be shown to be either dead wrong or out of date within five years of graduation. The trouble is that no one can tell us which half.

Some of us may recollect the Indian parable of the elephant and the blind men where a group of blind men embark on a journey to describe an elephant by feeling its various parts using their subjective assessments. The moral of the story was to enlighten us on how hubris of subjective assessments, with personal biases and opinions, can be blinding in discerning the totality of the truth of a matter. It illustrates the power of having differing opinions and discourse in understanding complex issues.

In healthcare, before the imposition of guidelines for patient care by the medico- political machinery, doctors across the world practised medicine by careful observation of their colleagues’ practices. By their patient’s side, they assessed the situation before them, were adventurous in trying out-of-the-box treatments and had a hands-on approach to care. Medical intuition was alive enabling science to blossom and remain evergreen. The knowledge of these doctors then became a reliable repository that was shared across states, countries, and continents.

The consensus that science is always evolving meant there was humility to accept that nothing could ever be engraved as ‘the science’. This is in sharp contrast to what is being promulgated today through the medical practice guidelines which purport to trademark ‘SCIENCE’, creating a parallel scientific realm. The realm of science fiction.

Throughout most of history, a medical practitioner’s clinical assessment started with bedside observations of the patient, detailed history taking and physical examination, these being the bedrock of a consultation. Dr William Osler, a renowned physician once said:

Medicine is learned by the bedside and not in the classroom. Let not your conceptions of disease come from the words heard in the lecture room or read from the book. See and then reason and compare and control. But see first.

Ancient-day physicians did just that; a la Sherlock Holmes style joining the dots and solving the mystery of the patient’s condition. This was practised day in and day out and it was a matter of course for a physician to do so. A good part of the diagnosis was made in those, perhaps many, face-to-face consultations.

Disjointed care: an uncoordinated battlefield

A patient recently advised me of his frustrating experience while an inpatient in a tertiary hospital. He called it ‘an uncoordinated battlefield’. Medical care has become increasingly disjointed with the birth of specialists and their rebirth into super-specialists. These groups of doctors need to be honoured for their commitment to increasing their knowledge of complex health needs. However, as it stands today, we may have more ‘ists’ than we have body parts to care for.

As the majority of trainee doctors march on to become specialists, a small group of doctors remain to do general practice. Until not so long ago, they used to be called general physicians and were considered jack of all trades and masters of none. Meaning they could treat most medical and simple surgical problems including minor traumas, thus avoiding the need for specialist care.

With time, however, general practitioners have become entangled in the business of medicine and bureaucratic nonsense, which requires no more than a pre-schoolers medical skill. It seems to be a total waste of years spent learning this noble trade. This, combined with professional apathy and education that confers minimal genuine knowledge, has created a large void in skill, widening the chasm between themselves and specialists. In short, if we are relying on specialist doctors with their magnifiers focusing on one part of the body, would they not be missing the rest of the elephant, considering GPs are too busy dealing with papers and clips?

Pill for an ill model of care

Over the decades, the practice of medicine has been overpowered and captured by the pharmaceutical industry through their various arms including governmental collaboration and their subservience to the industry. On how this has impacted healthcare policies, read this article (In Pursuit of Health).

Over-regulation and the Practice of Defensive Medicine

While we have very intelligent, empathetic and knowledgeable doctors in society, the vast majority of them work as slaves to the system that has beholden them in fear. Medical over-regulation has reached a critical point causing professional and public harm, threatening to do more. For how this has impacted doctors and patients, read this article (Defensive Medicine).

Is healthcare being sabotaged to appease the whims of those who now profit from it at the cost of selfless medical practitioners who built it in the first place? While these are not the only issues that plague healthcare today, urgent attention is needed to address the pressing issues described, for the sake of the people.

And the profession.

This article first appeared in The Spectator Australia here.

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