I dare say that if I use the word “wealth”, many people will immediately think of it in terms of net worth, money, or an abundance of valuable possessions. In this context, it is more than a little sobering that just eight billionaires own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who form the poorest half of the entire world’s population.1
Yet wealth is also synonymous with an abundance of any particularly desirable thing that may well be unrelated to materialistic property. The inner wealth, if you like, that can manifest itself through the cultural, intellectual or spiritual aspects of our lives and which has a massive positive impact on the quality of life.
You might be thinking that all sounds very philosophical and conceptually true, but what has this got to do with dentistry? Well, bear with me and let’s look at it in the context of health. Warren Harding, in his inaugural American presidential speech said:
“Wealth is not inimical to welfare; it ought to be its friendliest agency.”
He had a vision of common welfare as the goal of national endeavour, while acknowledging that financial resources are needed to achieve this. Sadly, he passed away from a coronary a mere three years later, so never knew if his vision would become reality. He might just still be waiting for that reality today.
Health is the most valuable commodity we possess, yet one we may least appreciate until it is taken away, often unexpectedly and sometimes quite dramatically. In his interim report on quality in health and care services on the NHS’s 70th birthday, Lord Darzi eloquently summed up the importance and value of health:
“Health comes first, for all of us, our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. Health is the purest form of wealth because it is what allows us to lead the best version of our life possible; it is the wellspring from which all our other experiences are made possible. The task of our health and care systems is not just to treat and care, but to prevent ill health, as well as to provide care and support that builds independence and resilience in the face of chronic illness.”2
Put our profession into this context and it is abundantly clear that we have a vast wealth of skills, knowledge, insights and abilities to make a huge difference to everyday health.
I wish you all continued good health.
1 Oxfam Briefing paper 16.1.17 https://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/an-economy-for-the-99-its-time-to-build-a-human-economy-that-benefits-everyone-620170
2 The Lord Darzi Review of Health and Care April 2018 https://www.ippr.org/files/2018-05/lord-darzi-review-interim-report.pdf