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Q1: Discuss how far are responsible for our own health?
With the advancement of medical science, man is now living longer. This results in a greater financial strain on the welfare states of the world where medical and health benefits are often indiscriminately demanded and dished out to the public. It is thus imperative now for us to con sider the advisability and feasibility of state responsibility for health care. I believe that we should be answer able to our bodies, especially in the diet we take and the lifestyle we lead. But, I admit that governmental role is necessary when the fulfilment of this personal duty is beyond us.
Our health is invariably affected by our diet. The food we partake is beyond governmental control. It is our personal choice that decides whether we buy health products or junk food. The government can encourage healthy living but cannot compel citizens into submission. On the dinner table, we decide whether we want a cholesterol ridden pizza or some bland vegetables. We can have healthier bodies only if we restrain and curb our impulses to gorge. It is only with self-will and determination that we can lower our sugar and calories intake. It is impossible and unthinkable for a health official to hover persistently over us to decide our daily menu. In a way, it is not fair if the state has to take responsibility for the treatment of ailments like high blood pressure when the fault lies in the unwise diet of her citizens. Thus, we should be culpable for our own health as we control our own diet.
However, the government can be responsible in monitoring the quality of food that is imported into the country. Health officials have to ensure that the food on sale is fit for consumption. Though a government cannot deter mine what food is consumed, it can ensure that they can be at least safe for eating. The importance of the govern. mental role is seen in the decision to ban all British beef into European Community (EC) nations after the furore over the Mad Cow disease. Therefore, it is clearly illustrated that by certifying that the food in the market satisfies the health guidelines, the government is being responsible for our health.
The lifestyle that we lead also determines the status of our health. One who smokes, drinks excessively or does not exercise regularly has a higher chance of falling ill. We have to make a conscious effort to keep our bodies fit and healthy. We have to possess an innate drive to propel us to keep away from drugs and cigarettes. Though drugs are legally banned in many countries, they are nevertheless peddled blatantly in the streets in others. As for cigarettes, they are a major source of government revenue and it could be politically very hard for the latter to ban their sale. It is all up to the individual to decide what kind of life he wants to lead. The government can encourage smokers to kick the habit but it cannot force them to do so. It can be seen as unjust for the government to treat smokers who have contracted lung cancer when this is the result of their own doing. Certainly we can be responsible for own health by adopting a healthier, better lifestyle.
We can take into account our mental health, besides physical health. It is up to us to purposely seek relief from stress. We can plan our own leisure and take up hobbies to pass time. Relaxation is important to keep our body and mind hale and hearty. After a long day’s work, it is imperative for us to enjoy ourselves. To deny ourselves rest and persist to work overtime can be detrimental to our bodies. Yet, it has been argued that the working environment that we live in makes it difficult for us to be accountable for our own mental health. In Singapore, stress can be so overwhelming that it is often beyond us to combat it. The competitive and propelling force be hind Singapore’s economic success also drives her people up the wall. Students are taxed and conditioned to perform. Workers have to persistently upgrade themselves, so as not to “lose the edge of competitiveness”. We are all gladiators in this corporate rat-race, that sanity has become a prized jewel. Thus, it can also be argued that the government can be responsible for our mental health, by complementing a strong economy with citizens that are fit and happy. By advocating less industrial competition, our citizens can have more time for rest and recreation.
However, we have to note that the pursuit of material ism depends ultimately on the individual. It is up to one self to balance one’s life between work and leisure. Thus, again, we can be culpable for own mental health as we can detach ourselves from the stress and strain of society. Yet, not everyone can be responsible for his own health. For those living under the poverty line, government aid is necessary. When deprivation and misery is the norm of one’s life, one will not be inclined to healthy living but survival. Moreover, some health problems like epidemics are beyond one’s control. The COVID-19 virus, Ebola virus and other tropical malaises cannot be attributed to the fault of anyone.
Despite this, I maintain my stand that we should be responsible for our own health. Though at times, it can be beyond our means and control, in adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle, we can at least ensure that common ailments or diseases are kept at bay.