Breakspear Hospital
 
 
Ron White

Ron White,

Environmental Medicine Foundation Chairman
 
Mission Statement

 

 

The Foundation's main objectives:
  • to spread awareness and provide information and education regarding allergy, its causes and treatment
  • to carry out relevant research into the subject of environmental illness
  • to help need people undergo treatment which they would otherwise be unable to afford as such treatments are available only within private medicine

 


2016 Message from Ron White,
Environmental Medicine Foundation Chairman

I’m Ron White and I’m Chairman of the Environmental Medicine Foundation, or EMF.

As the name suggests, we are interested in illnesses caused by environmental factors.

The charity began life in 2003 as the Breakspear Hospital Trust and we were closely associated, and remain so, with Breakspear Medical Group, which specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of allergy, although legally and financially we are completely separate organisations.

Our intial objectives were threefold:

1) to spread awareness and provide information and education regarding allergy, its causes and treatment

2) to carry out relevant research into the subject

3) to help needy people undergo treatment which they would otherwise be unable to afford as such treatments are available only within private medicine.

As things have turned out, so far we have allocated the vast majority of our outgoing expenditure to the third of those objectives, ie helping people afford treatment.

Whilst we don’t in any way regret this, we do feel that we have been ignoring the longer term issues involved in the other two objectives regarding providing information and carrying out research, there are only so many things one can do with a limited budget.

We recognise that some illnesses, and I don’t mean just allergies, are caused by environmental factors which potentially can have a detrimental impact on all people who come into contact with them, and others, including allergy, which impact on some people but not others, maybe the most obvious example being hay fever which some do but most people don’t suffer from, which begs the question what is the underlying difference between those two groups of people? The immune system is the obvious answer but this is a very complex area.

There has been much publicity recently about the harmful effects of diesel fumes, no doubt accelerated by the VW scandal, with many estimates of the number of people who die from illnesses brought about by exposure to them. Then there is the issue of mobile phones, again with various estimates of those affected by them, hard to know how accurate any of these estimates are but there is no doubt that environmental factors such as these have a significant affect on health generally. It’s a pity that so much research goes on into how to cure illnesses, the obvious example being cancer, with very little attention being paid to how to prevent them. Of course, some of these factors have become an unstoppable part of modern life but recognition and more publicity about them would be a good place to start.

There has been an enormous amount of publicity in the past year about Lyme disease, certainly an environmentally induced condition, and the fact that it seems to be on the increase, a disease until recently unknown to probably most people. But it has been around a long time although not always recognised. It is treated but in a very minimal way by the NHS and people can spend major periods of their lives suffering sometimes devastating effects of an undiagnosed condition. So far EMF has steered away from Lyme due to concentration on other areas, but we now believe the time has come to become involved.

The first thing which needs to be tackled is general awareness of the illness and how widespread it is. Many varied estimates exist as to how many sufferers there are and we do not wish to go with any one of those estimates to discredit the others. Nevertheless, we do know that the number is high, and what is so frustrating about this is the fact that the condition is virtually unknown other than to those known to be affected by it.

People suffer dreadful symptoms for years without a diagnosis. It doesn’t occur to most poeple that they may have Lyme and most doctors wouldn’t recognise it immediately either, which means that many sufferers undergo tests for all sorts of other better known conditions with negative results over a long period of time. Indeed it is almost certain that people can suffer all their lives without a correct diagnosis ever being achieved.

So, greater awareness is needed amongst the public generally and parts of the medical profession; we can only hope to kick start the move towards that objective.

 

 
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