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Speech by President Halonen at the VII Nordic Congress of Lymphology

VII Nordic Congress of Lymphology                                                                                                                                                      Check against delivery

6.9.2018 Paasitorni


Tarja Halonen


Also on my behalf, a very warm welcome to (still) summerly Helsinki!

Science gives us important information on human beings and their wellbeing. In many respects, we are in the beginning of an interesting path towards deeper understanding. New technologies pave the way towards conquering the space, studying the secrets of the deepest oceans, and understanding ourselves as human beings.

It is also interesting to see, that many, so called, “new discoveries” in medicine show that traditional folk medicine had the right “hunch” hundreds of years ago. But we should not be led by mysticism and romanticism: there are both “right” and “wrong” traditional beliefs. And they both sell.

The idea to take care of a human being as a whole, is a very welcome trend in this time of ever specializing sciences. General surgery has its role to play when treating illnesses/ diseases. But to have a desired end result, knowledge in preparatory and after-treatment is needed too. In some situations, surgery could be postponed or even totally avoided by other measures.

Breast cancer patients, who are mostly women, form a major group of surgical patients. Lymphatic care is probably an obvious thing to all of you, for reducing swelling and promoting speedy recovery. But unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be so self-evident in practice.

Musculoskeletal disorders have increased, due to sedentary work and shortcomings in ergonomics of modern technology. The role of strengthening people’s physiological endurance, as well as the role of preventive health care, are gaining increased attention. But progress is slow when compared to the needs. Many times, authorities are not suggesting those services – so, a client needs to know how to ask and justify his/her need.

In Finland, health insurance compensation is not very favourable for lymphatic treatment or similar care. If it’s possible to get it covered, the period of treatment is often too short.

I have difficulties to understand, why a patient’s well-being can be ”suspicious” to specialists. For example, an indicator for recommending an urgent hip replacement, is the sense of pain. So, a reference related to the sense of pain can delay an operation, which otherwise would be necessary.

In sustainable development deliberations, all sectors of society are encouraged to come out of habitual routines and thinking. Also, finding new linkages between different things is central. Likely, more attention will be paid to the importance of nutrition and environment in people’s well-being. I hope that this would increase people’s own will to take care of their bodies and well-being: for a permanent healthy life-style, instead of some short-sighted tricks and fashionable trends.

International cooperation among specialists in health care & well-being is very welcome. In my opinion, Nordic cooperation is especially important, due to those similarities in our societies. Good practices are easier to export.

My best wishes for a succesful seminar, as well as for civil/ societal participation!