Does it make sense to prescribe diaper cream to a baby with a chronic rash, when the real cause of the problem is that his mother can’t afford to buy diapers and change him regularly?
This is a fascinating show on the connection between poverty, health and life expectancy on CBC’s “Project Money”. It features Dr Gary Bloch, a family doctor with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto who is also the chair of the Ontario College of Family Physicians’ Committee on Poverty and Health.
Dr Bloch is also the author of a March 20, 2013 Globe and Mail article entitled: “As a doctor, here’s why I’m prescribing tax returns. Seriously”
In this piece, Dr Bloch writes: “The link between health and income is solid and consistent – almost every major health condition, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental illness, occurs more often and has worse outcomes among people who live at lower income. As people improve their income, their health improves. It follows that improving my patients’ income should improve their health.”
This is an important discussion that we all need to be part of. It also suggests that front line workers, physicians, nurses, social workers etc. should always ask about a patient’s financial situation and become more aware of the resources available in the community.
Dr Bloch also believes in advocating for larger scale societal changes: “As doctors we need to, and we can, prescribe income while advocating for real, effective policies to combat poverty.”
How refreshing and inspiring!