Living with Hippocrates

Schermafbeelding 2013-03-22 om 21.37.38Pulmonologists Wanda de Kanter and Pauline Dekker live to make other people’s lives longer. Their passion is commendable. Colleagues, columnists and others call them heroes. For they dare to make  a fist against the lobby of the cigarette industry.

Dekker and The Kanter committed their lifes for years in order to deter young people to start smoking by the denormalization of tobacco. They do this in several ways: a joint blog, Wanda’s blog at Artsennet, books, DVDs, articles in journals and regularly they are interviewed by the media. For their work they have already won several awards, including the Muntendam Price (2012).

Smoking is a free choice? Nonsense!, say the pulmonologists, who daily  face the consequences of those ‘choices’ seen on the pulmonary department of the hospital in Beverwijk.

Smoking is especially associated with particular lungdiseases. Professor of Cardiology Angela Maas mentions more direct effects of smoking on the health of people, “COPD and lung cancer are only minor players in the devastating health effects of smoking, which is also deeply penetrated into the fields of cardiology, vascular medicine, thoracic surgery , urogenital diseases, fertility disorders, et cetera.”

Recently , there hasn’t been any medium that paid no attention to these impassioned doctors. They have their foundation Stichting Rookprevenitie launched the website Praise and criticism attacked them in part. The naming and shaming of those who may or may not be directly involved with the tobacco lobby, is something we are not used to do in the Netherlands. A breach of the privacy of the lives of others, it is said.

The pulmonologists have turnes the Hippocratic oath into their life ‘s work: they devoted their lives at the service of others, put the interests of patients first, promote their health and well inform them and occupy a responsibility to society. Indeed, they point others to their responsibility for others through that website with all the profiles.

The website is in service of the mission in life that the Kanter and Dekker are fitting, although there is a difference of values: the target to heal people and to prevent them becoming ill versus the economic objective of tobacco companies to maximize money. One man dead, another man living. The website puts the denormalization of tobacco definitely again on the map.

Hippocrates would be proud.


A blog by Karin Oost