The National Institute of Health, the federal government’s top medical research agency, completed a study comparing the health of Americans with the health of individuals living in other affluent democracies. At the completion of the study, Dr. Stephen Woolf, the panel chairman, and a professor of family medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, commented that he, and other panel members were struck by the gravity of the findings.

And what were those findings? The report stated that American men ranked last in life expectancy among the 17 countries studied and American women ranked at or near the bottom in nine areas, including heart disease, chronic lung disease, obesity and diabetes.

The panel suggested a campaign to raise public awareness of the American health disadvantage and a study of what could alter this dismal picture.

Ayurveda offers a suggestion that I think makes a lot of sense. How about a focus on prevention?

It has long been noted that the American medical system is focused on disease care. Doctors attempt to fix sick people.

What Americans need is a health care system: a system that focuses on health and attempts to help people to create and maintain health. This is called prevention and it is true health care-not disease care.

Prevention, or Health Care, is economically feasible. Insurances will often pay for expensive treatments but not for interventions that are preventative.

Symptoms are the last stage of a disease process and by the time symptoms appear medical intervention is all too often too little too late.

On the other hand, Ayurveda is a medical system that focuses on the elemental imbalances in the physiology. Imbalances are readily assessed and identified by a well-trained Ayurvedic practitioner.

In the Ayurveda handbook are a plethora of interventions that can be utilized to restore balance. It is untreated imbalances that eventually become symptoms. Ayurvedic knowledge holds techniques that often nip these imbalances in the bud!

Some medical schools have incorporated Ayurveda into their curriculum. Some western trained physicians have turned their attention toward Ayurveda. In many cities there are Vaidyas (Ayurvedic practitioners) working to help people create and maintain health. If you are interested in learning if there is a Vaidya in your zip code you can check out the NAMA (National Ayurvedic Medical Association) website.

There will always be disease and it is necessary to have interventions to treat maladies. At the same time, we would profit from an increased focus on prevention; on Health Care instead of Disease Care! Perhaps the aforementioned study will push the National Institute of Health in that direction!