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Doctor’s corner: an interview with Azucena Cuijpers

Azucena Cuijpers, the founder of New Women’s Health, is a family doctor who specializes in women’s health. Her practice focuses on the whole woman, addressing all the different aspects that influence her health. She provides the latest scientific practices as well as natural treatment modalities.

 

The current pandemic of COVID-19 and chronic disease have brought a focus and awareness on the current needs of society and its healthcare system. They urge us to reprioritize health. “In my opinion, there has never been a better time to instill change; to promote health and put disease prevention at the top of our healthcare agenda and at the forefront of our ministry of health’s agenda. This way we can inform, educate and inspire the population. Nudge people towards a healthier lifestyle and create a health-promoting environment together,” says Azucena.

 

These actions, which on a smaller scale have already begun, will bring forward a new wave of medicine that allows the focus to switch from disease-centered medicine to an emphasis on health and wellbeing. Patients are encouraged and educated on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep themselves from becoming sick in the first place. A healthy way of living reduces the risk of chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. It also supports a robust immune system, making us more resilient against acute and infectious diseases.

 

“The new generation of doctors is ready for change. We have witnessed the enormous rise of chronic and lifestyle-related disease, and experienced the debilitating impact of this enormous influx of patients on our healthcare system and ourselves. We believe that this paradigm shift will help to lower the burden on an already struggling hospital and medical field.” The rate of burnout for healthcare providers was already tremendously high prior to the pandemic. Failing to address this key issue will likely cause burnout rates to rise even more, as the added stress to the system will become overwhelming.

 

The aim of this type of care is to engage in a therapeutic partnership, spend more time on treating the underlying causes of disease and apply a diverse array of strategies to support the body’s natural ability to regain health.

 

For this kind of medical practice to be effective, Azucena points out, “It is paramount to carefully listen to the needs and history of the individual patient, putting the patient at the center of care. As ongoing research investigates how environment, lifestyle and genetics affect both short- and long-term health, there is an opportunity for medicine to move towards influencing these factors. This new way of practicing medicine will allow us to more adequately meet the healthcare needs of the twenty-first century.”

 

Another shift that is being seen during the COVID-19 pandemic is an increase in Telemedicine not only between doctors and patients, but also between doctors. Azucena says this has allowed doctors to “quickly share valuable data and findings through webinars, nationally and internationally.” The pandemic has also created a situation in which all the healthcare providers are united in battle, with Covid-19 being the proverbial enemy. This has led healthcare providers in the short run to experience a renewed sense of connection with each other and to receive more appreciation from the public. “Feeling acknowledged speaks directly to our basic need to belong. It has put many of us more in touch with what drives us and gives meaning to our work. Thus, strengthening our willpower so we can keep on going in times of great adversity. Maintaining this connection with ourselves and each other will be key for healthcare to continue to move forward. Because we were, and always will be, in this together,” Azucena emphasizes.  Highlighting the importance of self-care is part of a healthy lifestyle.

 

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