For 44 years I have written this medical column. It is a privilege, but also a huge responsibility. Now, in my 95th year, my time on this planet is limited. Therefore, I want to set a W. Gifford-Jones Prize to honor someone or something that symbolizes the importance of common sense, a healthy lifestyle and innovative medical thinking that I have preached for years.
Years ago I wrote that "community problems are caused by people who are supposed to be intelligent who are mostly ignorant." social problem.
To emphasize this point I propose that we be able to close half of the hospital and fire half the doctors if people stop abusing themselves and use behaviors that are beneficial to their bodies. I admit changing lifestyle is easier said than done. But it's better than unnecessarily dying at an early age, or suffering for years because of unnecessary chronic diseases.
For decades, the feedback I received from readers was very supportive. Their repeated message is that they like the common sense approach to medicine and life in general, and what I call a spade shovel, when writing about controversial issues.
Taking a firm stand on important and controversial issues does not always win a popularity contest. But as one editor suggested to me many years ago, "It is the job of a medical journalist to make people think." And by doing that, make the world healthier.
I often ask how it feels to write this medical column. The best answer is the best and worst.
The first challenge is to fight for women's reproductive rights. It is my belief that every child must be the desired child. Only after a long debate, abortion became legal. But the struggle to reaffirm the law continues.
This dispute was followed by struggling for better pain control. I know that, in the UK, heroin has been available for more than 90 years to alleviate the suffering of end-stage cancer. I consider this a humanitarian goal and write a New Year resolution column requesting legalization.
In 60 years of writing, I have never received a greater response from readers, many of whom have seen loved ones dying in suffering. I finally gave 40,000 letters of support to the Minister of Health in Ottawa.
But what I thought would be a logical fight was opposed by the Canadian Cancer Society which called me "a medical journalist." Some cancer specialists lie when they claim morphine is as good as heroin in many cases. But suppose you are not one of "most cases"! Then I went to England, did my own research, and proved that all criticism was wrong. Heroin, after a five-year battle, passed in February 1982, to fight cancer pain.
Now in 2019 thousands of North Americans are dying of opioid overdoses and drugs. I have written that I believe that building a safe injection site for addicts is the wrong way to combat this epidemic. And returning death sentences for those who encourage illegal drugs is a better route. The majority of readers agree with me.
I also hope the Gifford-Jones Prize will inspire others to find innovative solutions to other vital problems because the world has never been free of them.
What are the criteria for winning the W. Gifford-Jones Prize, medals and financial awards? Over the years I have written that Rule # 1 is to lead a good lifestyle from an early age. Rule # Two, never forget Rule # One. And because I am writing an unconventional medical column, I hope that future prize winners will also find unconventional attractive ways to win this prize. Maybe good deeds. Maybe medical research. The prize will only say "For Services for Humanity".
Next week the first winner will surprise you. Is there regret? You bet. I hope I have 60 more years to write this column.
EDITOR NOTES: Columns are not medical advice and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure diseases. Please contact your doctor. Information provided is for informational purposes only and is the sole view of the author. See Docgiff.com. For comments; [email protected]