The simple solutions to health problems
August 10th 2007, 12:07 | Bryan Hubbard
We've become obsessed in the West with drug solutions to all our health problems. The obsession may help boost the bottom line of the plump pharmaceutical industry, but it isn't always the right response.
Indeed, GlaxoSmithKline went on record to admit that, at best, its drugs help just 30 per cent of people for whom they're intended. Not so surprising, perhaps, as we're all different bio-chemically, and even the disease will have its own peculiarities, despite being given a globally-agreed name and definition.
The dominance of the pharmaceutical industry over Western medicine has become so complete that we rarely think outside of the drug cabinet for a solution.
This is a pity, and it means we're missing out on some obvious solutions that are more effective. One example is the spread of malaria in the sub-Sahara region. It's a terrible killer, responsible for the death of a child in the region every 30 seconds. Each year it kills 1 million children, and makes 300 million very ill.
It's usually spread by the mosquito, which is becoming resistant to pesticides (courtesy of the pharmaceutical and chemical industries) and the drugs are also ineffectual once the victim has been bitten.
It occurred to a few people on the ground a year or two back that providing netting around beds was a very effective way of stopping mosquitoes.The trouble is that the netting costs money, not much, mind, but too much for the tiny non-drug budgets and cost centres.
There's another novel way of stopping malaria at source. It's also occurred to the people on the ground that a fish known as the Nile tilapia loves to eat mosquito larvae - and it's reckoned that these voracious fish can reduce the numbers of malaria-carrying mosquities by 94 per cent.
So fill up the ponds and rivers with Nile tilapia, put netting around everyone's beds - and watch malaria diminish.
So, now we're in a non-drug frame of mind, can you think of other ways that diseases can be treated without reaching for the prescription pad?
Let me have your thoughts!