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by Professor John Wright
About twenty years ago, Ross Horne, then a senior captain and instructor on jumbo jets with Qantas Airways, introduced to Australia the ideas of Nathan Pritikin, a retired electronics engineer from California. The ideas concerned diet and its relationship with the various health problems of modern society, a subject about which, over those twenty years, Mr Horne has extended his concept, seeking always to find a unifying theme for maintaining good health.
The medical profession has a long history of discomfort with health recommendations coming from non-professionals. It would be a great pity if Ross Horne's quest for truth and his abiding concern for his fellow man should draw a response of intolerance or condescension from conventional medicine, particularly in view of the fact that conventional medicine has arrived at an impasse that may indicate the present system is not achieving the desired results.
Health costs rocket up at rates exceeding population growth by a factor of fifteen times. Ever-more refined equipment finds exactly the same diseases but at greater cost. Conventional medical management largely fails in controlling, treating or achieving improvement in many areas of illness.
This book is devoted to the subject of total health care in the belief that all illness is avoidable and should never be tolerated in themselves by intelligent people. In this book, Mr Horne has reviewed and demonstrated the beliefs of many very distinguished medical scientists and doctors, past and present, and has attempted to perceive patterns that are not readily apparent to those of conventional medical upbringing. Above that, he has the ability to anticipate the questions and doubts which trouble the whole population, and he has the knack of presenting solutions with an appealing simplicity.
As in his previous writings, Ross Horne demonstrates here his remarkable scholarship and diligence, coherence and worldly wisdom. Insofar as his message may contain truths which have escaped conventional teaching, particularly in the area of nutrition and its influence on body systems and pathology, then he has demonstrated a serious deficiency in awareness that exists in so-called well-informed circles.
Many would view this sort of book as required reading for medical students, not only because they must learn to very carefully analyse, agree with or refute the claims he makes, but also because medical students should graduate knowing what sorts of questions their patients will increasingly ask them and why so many of the sick and troubled will increasingly depart from adherence to conventional practitioners.
Medical students of the future may also find it remarkable that the unifying principles brought together in this book have been preached by distinguished medical scholars for hundreds of years. The wonder is that the maturation of these ideas has not yet led to a realistic review of the immense sociologic and civilisational aspects of health delivery. Ultimately, it seems a matter of social, political and medical morality.
1 have read this book with the same sense of embarrassment as will most of my medical colleagues-that I have not known answers to so many of the questions which he asks, nearly forty-five years after I began as a medical student. Above all, 1 am fearful and saddened that, if too many of my colleagues are intolerant of the great themes about which Ross Horne writes, refusing to give them long second thoughts, then in another forty-five years other doctors will still be fearful and saddened, and countless millions of humans may have been deprived of their birthright.
This is a very disturbing book. Ross Horne is asking us all to at least hear the beat of a different drum. The peoples and patients of this world are asking the same question.
The crescendo anthem is lucid, simple, stimulating and unmistakably hopeful. Our medical ancestors, through this book, call us to listen again and again.
MB BS FRACS FACS
Surgeon, Professorial Staff U.N.S.W 1963-87;
now Consultant Surgeon, Sydney.