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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 August 13 - 19  > State should fulfill its own responsibility of promoting health and longevity
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2014 August 13 - 19 [WELFARE]

State should fulfill its own responsibility of promoting health and longevity

August 19, 2014
Akahata editorial (excerpt)

The Abe administration proclaims that it will seek to increase the so-called healthy life expectancy, the number of years a person is expected to live in good health. However, Abe’s true intention is to reduce state expenditures on medical and nursing-care services by shifting the responsibility of improving public health to individuals.

The white paper of the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, which was submitted to the Cabinet this month, stated that the ministry will make a society where older people can live long in good health by narrowing the gap between life expectancy and the healthy life expectancy.

The white paper puts an emphasis on financial aspects, stressing that the smaller the gap, the lower the public spending on medical care would be. It even suggests that suffering diseases and injuries is a crime of wasting taxpayers’ money.

This will lead to a situation where many people will be excluded from the national health insurance program on the grounds that their ill health is caused by their own unwholesome lifestyle.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the public health problem should be addressed not by encouraging self-help efforts, but by addressing social factors which affect people’s health conditions, such as poverty, economic inequality, and poor working conditions. The WHO calls on nations to address these factors.

The Abe government is trying to limit state responsibility for public health to just encouraging people to lead a healthy lifestyle. The Abe Cabinet’s policy to undermine the public health system is the most harmful to the public health. Abe’s labor policy is also a hazard as it will force workers to work longer and harder for lower wages.

Abe’s policy could result in the worsening of longevity. The best way to help people live longer and healthier is to improve the social security system.

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