Diseases capable of taking human lives can be broadly split into two groups: diseases of poverty and diseases of affluence. Diseases of poverty such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, measles and HIV/Aids are infectious diseases which thrive in communities with limited access to basic sanitation, healthcare and education. These diseases are easily prevented by modern medicine and healthcare education, but still take millions of lives in poorer countries.
Developed countries are not bothered by these diseases of poverty though. Nope, we have other troubles: the diseases of affluence. These are degenerative diseases which naturally result from constant abuse and neglect of body and mind through self-destructive lifestyle choices. Over time, such an unhealthy lifestyle naturally results in clogged arteries, extensive organ damage, malignant tumors, hormone imbalances and degradation of the brain and nervous system. In normal day-to-day language, we refer to these things by names such as heart attacks, strokes, all manner of cancers, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Now the part where this becomes a moral issue is when you realize that poor people in developing nations do not have the means to prevent the diseases of poverty, while rich people in developed countries mostly bring the diseases of affluence onto themselves. Also, while the USA spends $8000 per person per year to try and treat its self-induced degenerative disease epidemic, vaccination programs costing a grand total of $17 per child can cut deaths from diseases of poverty in half.
It really all comes down to our lifestyle choices. As discussed in a previous post, traditional communities such as the Okinawa Islands in Japan have about a 7 times smaller chance of dying from degenerative disease, live about 5 years longer and spend about 5 times less on healthcare than Americans. Really, if this was not so tragic, it would actually be funny.
The moral issues can be extended even further when considering our environmental and economic crises. The USA alone spends a whopping $2.7 trillion per year on healthcare. It can safely be assumed that simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle (which is well documented and very easy to do) can slice this number by a factor of five while extending their life expectancy by five years. This would free up around $2.1 trillion which is pretty close to the massive US budget deficit ($1.3 trillion) and the total global investment in renewable energy to date ($1.1 trillion). We can therefore greatly reduce both our environmental and economic crises by simply looking after ourselves.
So, please immunize yourself against affluenza. Your personal health is not simply a personal matter, it is a global matter.