Unfortunately we live in a world in which, unless we can put a monetary value on something we tend not to value it. Our valuations are all done in terms of price and cost. We value objects that have a high price on them and people who are described as ‘wealthy’. We describe the latter as having ‘made money’ whereas unfortunately their skill is to collect it off other people.

I was reminded of this the other day when I attended a presentation on a new ‘hospital’ which is soon to be opened in this area. For many of us it is not a proper hospital as it doesn’t have either an emergency department or facilities to do operations. What they are building is not what most people regard as a hospital but in describing it as such the government can claim to have built another ‘hospital’. Elections next year!

At the meeting I raised the question about preventative medicine. This was dismissed as trivial. If you ask people what the major medical discovery was last century nobody will suggest preventative medicine, yet this was really a big step forward. Because it wasn’t the result of major research and huge amounts of money we ignore it yet this was the only medical breakthrough achieved which affects everyone and can improve lives and health.

The three major problems facing developed countries today are obesity, diabetes and unhealthy ageing. Yet this brand new medical facility, which is priding itself on having state-of-the-art procedures, completely ignores these three issues. How much money we could save, and how much healthier and happier people would be, if we put resources into enabling people either to prevent these chronic diseases from occurring, or, if we can’t do that, at least reduce the impact of them.

What adds insult to injury for me is that the people who present talks on new health developments are often overweight and under fit themselves and don’t even seem to realise that they have a problem.

I’m told that Bhutan doesn’t have a measure of gross domestic product, putting everything in monetary terms, but rather measures gross domestic happiness instead. How sensible.