Saturday, 2 December 2017

Unmasking the Real Enemy

Public Health Wowsers

Our public health ideologues more often than not wear the garb of zealots.  It's why the phrase "public health Nazi" has been coined.  They are frequently cast as do-gooders, with an inflated sense of self-righteousness.  They are wowsers.

A recent example of their puritanical zeal in New Zealand has been their opposition to Ronald McDonald Houses at hospitals.  These are well known facilities, funded by fast-food giant, McDonald whereby parents and relatives of sick children are provided free accommodation to stay near their children whilst they are being treated for serious illnesses in hospitals  Many who have benefited from this charity remain deeply grateful.  But the public health zealots have a different view.  To them Ronald McDonald Houses are part of the Evil Empire who do great harm to people.

In reality, it is the food wowsers who are doing far more harm than good.  The ignominy of these zealots has provoked a critical editorial in the NZ Herald.

Like experts in many things, doctors specialising in the study of "public health" are prone to tunnel vision. In their determination to counter the damage done by smoking, drinking, sugar, fast foods or anything else harmful to many, they are inclined to ignore all other considerations.  That is what happened when two of the country's district health boards declined offers of a Ronald McDonald House for their hospitals.

It turns out these decisions were not made by the boards of the Counties Manukau and Southern DHBs but by executives who deferred to their public health physicians. Today we reveal the board of Counties Manukau has stepped in to "review" its executive team's decision.  Not before time. The spurning of offers from Ronald McDonald House Charities has been widely criticised among the public, who constantly hear that DHBs are strapped for cash.  Only ideologues reject a valuable offer because it also serves a commercial purpose.
Quite.  But for our part, we have seen the enemy, and it is NZ's Public Health physicians who are becoming more and more ideologically hidebound.  They are verging on being typecast as extremists.  Their cant may only find justification if it is assumed that New Zealand's population is made up of comatose simpletons.  Such arrogance is not tolerated in the consulting rooms of those who actually practise medicine.  Why should it be given any credence when it blossoms noisomely forth from the mouths of these Public Health physicians/bureaucrats?
Of course, these houses providing accommodation for the families of sick children are funded by McDonalds for its public relations, but the houses serve a social need and the ideologues of public heath need to credit the public with common sense. It is possible to appreciate the accommodation without losing sight of the risks posed by eating too many hamburgers.

Counties Manukau chairman Lester Levy says his board had not even known of the offer from Ronald McDonald Charities before it was turned down. With hindsight he believes the board should have been alerted to what its executive leadership team had decided under delegated authority. But would the board have over-ruled the decision before this newspaper revealed it to the public last month? . . . .

Dr Levy's executives have been looking for alternative philanthropic funds through the Middlemore Foundation. Now they have been told to bring all definitive proposals to the board, including Ronald McDonald's.  Naming rights are a fair price to pay for the happiness and benefits brought to hospitals. For families with sick children it has a good name.
Let's hope Chairman Levy sorts the wowsers out.

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