Monthly Archives: January 2009

“It is a scar on society that some lives are still deemed more important than others, especially when viewed through a lens distorted by politics, economics, religion, and  history. The percieved worth of a country – including its economic, trading and political value – and the degree of media coverage should not determine the value of the lives of its citizens lost to war”


“Just as the UN was founded in the spirit of shared humanity, so was medicine. The Hippocratic Oath and its popular modern equivelents, puts caring for human beings and treating each life as equal at their very heart. Surely it is not just the brave few health professionals in the firing line who have the responsibily for meeting the health needs of civilains injured in conflict… if the Hippocratic Oath means anything, all doctors whatever their situation, speciality or senoirity should live up to their name by calling on their national governments and the international community – perhaps through their national medical organisations – to ensure that civilians injured or affected by conflict recieve the medical attention they need, wherever these people may be in the world. Such action is not being a so-called humanitarian – it is what being a member of the medical profession should be all about.”

As stories about the loss of life in both sides of the conflict emerge, strong words from today’s editorial in the Lancet - and absolutely correct.

1 Expect a long life

“If I had known I was going to live this long I’d have taken better care of myself.” It’s a quip attributed to, among others, Mark Twain, Jimmy Durante and George Burns – and one reason it’s so popular is that there’s truth in it. Burns cracked that joke on his 99th birthday but, for most of us, wondering how long we’ve got to live is no longer the key question, at least not for affluent westerners, whose life expectancy has risen steadily.

What people should be asking themselves instead, says Phil Hanlon, professor of public health at Glasgow university, is how long they will live free from chronic disease or disability, free from morbid obesity or otherwise limited in our mobility. “If we want to live healthy and long lives, then we need to begin from the earliest age to preserve our healthy physiology,” says Hanlon.

His first prescription is brief: live simply. “One of the important things emerging from the new science of wellbeing – see the work of Felicia A. Huppert, for example – is that if you voluntarily decide to live more simply, then you tend to be happier.” We should try to minimise our commutes, maintain a sensible work-life balance and, hardly music to Alistair Darling’s ears, reduce the quantity of things we buy – maintaining what he calls “less stuff in our lives”.

The remainder of the article can be read here. Please post comments below.

Margaret McCartney’s Blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

A forum on healthcare policy and professional issues, by Glasgow-based GP and FT Weekend columnist Margaret McCartney.