With the increase of coronavirus infections in Europe, many governments are taking new lockdown measures to prevent the virus from spreading. At this challenging time, it is important to not fall into the trap of fear and irrational decisions. To date, the only response to the pandemic is the immune system of the population. That’s why the activation of measures to improve public health is the most important question of our time.

Daily breaking news about the evolution of the pandemic and new government measures seem to have become part of many citizen’s daily life. A narrative of “war” and “fight” is often used when describing measures intended to disburden hospitals at the limits of their capacities. The response by many governments seems to be to ensure that citizens “stay at home”. Instead of reflecting on how to boost public health, the reaction by authorities can be described as purely reactive, authoritative and seldomly science based. The fear of the virus has led to irrational decisions creating the conditions for the virus to spread even further – a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The efficiency paradigm in public health is very inefficient

Many governments in Europe and beyond justify their drastic measures by the imperative of upholding capacities within hospitals. This is incoherent with the reality that for many years, hospitals have been shut down and health personnel laid off in the name of austerity measures. Furthermore, hospitals seem to have become the only “frontline” in response to the virus. Resident doctors, complementary medicine and health prevention measures have all suffered by a sole focus on supposed efficiency of the health system, while in reality stripping it of its resilience. Today, we pay a very high economic price for these cuts in the name of economic efficiency that doesn’t deserve this label.

Instead of investing in the health of citizens, this “war” is said to be won only by discovering a vaccine. In regular times, it takes 8-10 years to develop a vaccine and there have been almost no cases in which a vaccine has actually led to the extinction of a disease. The response to the virus cannot succeed by remaining stuck in a “war” rhetoric that is fueling fear, stress and despair. A paradigm shift is urgently needed to prevent further collateral damage from the measures intended to “fight” the virus. Beyond mental health issues, this damage also concerns waiting lists for other diseases that can currently not be treated.

We need to start talking about how to support health

Currently, the only protection to the virus consists in the immune system of the population. Unfortunately, many factors have contributed to a worsening public health: air pollution, city noise, junk food, pesticides, lacking physical activity, permanent digital connection, social inequalities and a generally worsening social climate. These factors have led to the increase of so-called “civilizational diseases” such as diabetes or cancer. Many studies have confirmed that many who have died with the coronavirus were also affected by other diseases. That’s why it is crucial to think systemically on how to boost health instead of fighting disease.

To change the course of things, it’s now about investing holistically in the health of the population by boosting their immune system:

– investing in public health infrastructure and health personnel
– ensuring the access and use of fresh, diverse and homemade foods for a healthy gut flora
– educating citizens about food and health
– promoting physical activity and time spent in nature (like forest bathing etc.)
– promoting offers for people to have deeper social relationships
– promoting preventive and complementary medicine such as Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Naturopathy and others
– reducing health-damaging factors such as air, water, noise, light and other types of pollution, pesticides, GMOs, fast food, electrosmog and others

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