With this posting I’d like to highlight a section for Dan Fountain’s work, “Health, the Bible and the Church.”
As persons, individually or collectively we have considered health to be a right rather than a responsibility. We assume that someone is going to deliver health care to us, be it the medical profession, the government, or some agency. We are content to be passive recipients of “health care” rather than active participants in the multitude of activities necessary to maintain and promote our own health. From this community default, has developed an understandable attitude of paternalism on the part of the medical profession-”We will do it for you.”
As members of the community, we deceive ourselves by assuming the implication that health is the responsibility only of doctors (healthcare professionals, let’s say. mjs) and hospitals. We fail to realize that health has to do with the way we live in our homes, how we do our work, how we play, and with our attitudes, feelings, and emotions. Health is life, and no one can “deliver” it to us nor can anyone but ourselves improve it or destroy it. We ourselves must take the primary initiative for our own health, using many resources available to us from various health and sickness care programs. (HBC, pg 12)
While we could debate the points made here (others can do much to destroy our health, for instance) I believe the gist of what Dr Fountain writes is perfectly applicable to today as it was in 1989 when this work was published. An especially important point made here is that which surrounds the idea that health is a (human) right and thus someone must be responsible for delivering it to us! This is the language used in global health circles and has been bought into by many Christians. But I think Dan has it right. The vast majority of what it takes to live a healthy life is up to the individual and is not something we should expect someone/something else to provide to us.
What can we as Christian health professionals do in light of such proclamations? (that health is a human right) First we need to be in the conversation. We need to be attending events hosted by non-Christian faith based entities (this includes WHO, MSF, SDG, etc) and while agreeing that access to affordable, local, quality and culturally relevant healthcare can be considered a right, it is not reasonable to argue that health is a human right. And into the conversation we can add that whenever human rights are discussed we should also remind our non-Christian associates that of more importance is the human responsibility we all share for living and helping others live healthy lives.