Health and healing

The state of human health is a reflection of the health of the Earth. The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." The regeneration of human health depends on the health of the places where we live, the way we treat one another, the realization of our personal power and creativity, and related practices affecting ourselves and our communities. Access to health care should be a right, not a privilege, for all people. Recognizing that health care alone does not create health, we also call for clean water, fresh air, nutritious food, adequate shelter, and appropriate education as basic health needs. We also hold that health and healing are not the specialized concerns of professionals and institutions, but primarily the responsibility of the community and each individual in it.

We support recommendations for a national health care program for all, regardless of ability to pay. We prefer a decentralized model for health care services under the national program, having local accountability and community participation.

Financing

This national health care program should be funded by general tax revenues and specific taxes imposed on unhealthy practices, such as tobacco and alcohol consumption.

It must include restrictions to contain the cost of care. These restrictions should be adopted at the state level, within federal guidelines.

Health care consumers and providers should be involved in state-level decisions about the allocation of health care resources.

Health care personnel

We support the implementation of training programs for clinicians and researchers, emphasizing a collaborative and holistic approach to healing.

We call for equitable pay and fringe benefits for health care workers.

We call for more programs aimed at recruiting members of under-represented ethnic groups into health professions.

We encourage practitioners to work in communities that are currently underserved.

Assuring access to and quality of health care

All employers should provide workers with reasonable amounts of leave time to enable them to obtain needed health care for themselves and family members and loved ones.

We call for the inclusion of home health services to assist persons in meeting their health needs and allowing them to remain in their own homes. We recommend that all health care agencies have closely monitored quality care programs, including input from the community.

Range of available services

We support the teaching of holistic health approaches and healthy life-styles, with an emphasis on prevention of disease rather than the suppression of symptoms.

We support the use of complementary therapies, such as herbal medicines, massage, and hypnosis, in health care practices.

We encourage the inclusion of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives, and alternative health care practitioners in the national health care program.

Comprehensive health education should be offered to all in schools and community centers. Sex education, AIDS prevention, and substance abuse education should be included.

We support the integration of traditional healing practices into community health programs, particularly those that serve significant ethnic populations.

We encourage the use of self-help and mutual-aid support groups as adjuncts to medical care.

We encourage public education and participation in discussion and decisions about ethical issues related to health.

Research directions and subjects

Alternatives to animal research should be supported and funded. We call for allocation of research funding to ensure a balance between the sexes and the cultural diversity of subjects.

We support increased levels of funding for clinical AIDS research.

Appropriate use of technology

We prefer that health care resources be invested in low-technology interventions that serve large numbers of people rather than in high technology, which is expensive, limited in accessibility, and often produces hazardous waste.

We prefer to avoid the use of technology to save lives without regard to the quality of life being saved.

Attitudes toward birth, aging, and death

We recognize birth, aging, and death as natural processes that we share with other animals on the planet. We support counseling services regarding birth, aging, and death.

We call for wider implementation of natural childbirth options, including the use of trained midwives and births at home. We encourage breastfeeding of infants.

We call for the wider implementation of hospice and other community-based programs that specialize in care for the dying.

We encourage the participation of family members and friends in the processes of birth and dying, and support family-leave policies that make such participation more feasible.

We encourage the use of living wills to ensure that all people have the right to make decisions about their deaths.

Occupational health and safety

We support the rights of workers in all occupations to safe work sites and to protection from potentially damaging work activities.

We support the presence of independent clinics to oversee work sites to assure that these rights are being adequately addressed. Strong criminal penalties should be levied for violations.

Right-to-know laws should be properly observed in work places where potentially hazardous substances or processes are used. In addition, we support legislation protecting workers' rights to expose public health and safety hazards without retaliation.

Exposure to toxins and environmental pollution

We want health practitioners to maintain records on allergies and other medical conditions that may be related to toxic exposures among their patients.

We call for strict limitations in the use, if not outright banning, of toxins and environmental pollutants known to be harmful to humans and other life forms.

Use of pharmaceuticals

We encourage practitioners to consult with consumers and explore alternatives to the use of pharmaceuticals.

We call for an expanded availability of unprocessed herbal medicines and the wide dissemination of information on their proper use. We prefer to leave decisions about use of herbal medicines in the hands of the individual.

Assuring the rights of special groups

We call for adequate social and health services for those who are labelled mentally ill, possessing different levels of abilities, addicted, and afflicted with AIDS, and the assurance that their rights as individuals will be honored.

Inpatient and outpatient care for severe or chronic mental illness, physical or developmental difficulties, addictions, and AIDS should be covered under the national health care program. Individuals in these situations should be involved in formulating and implementing their treatment plans to the greatest possible extent.

Reproductive rights and family planning

We support research in contraceptive technologies, including natural family planning, with the goal of finding methods of birth control for both men and women that are safe, inexpensive, and easy to use. These contraceptive aids should be made widely available to all people, with appropriate guidance in their use.

We believe the right of a woman to control her own body is inalienable. The decision on whether or not to bring a pregnancy to term is the woman's alone to make. To this end, we also believe it is essential that the option of a safe, legal abortion remains available to all women.