Dr. Rav Kahlon is the coordinator of the Londolozi clinic, which is available to staff and family every Saturday. Over the last 12 months there has been a real shift towards positioning this service as a place of healing, rather than just a place of treatment. “Our mission at the Londolozi clinic has been to revolutionise how people think about their own health” explains Dr. Rav.
I spent a morning with Dr. Rav discussing this mission and asking her about her experiences as the doctor on the ground at Londolozi.
Ryan: What is your long-term goal for healthcare at Londolozi clinic?
Dr. Rav: Short-term healthcare is standard wherever you are. As a doctor I am responsible for addressing immediate problems and redirecting individuals to specialists where necessary. Having said that, an individual’s long-term investment in their health is what I am most interested in, and that happens with education. The culture at Londolozi is one of empowerment, in education, in career, but also in physical and mental health. As much as possible, and together with Gogo Mo (at the Londolozi Digital Learning Centre) and a team of passionate nurses, we have embarked on a mission to educate the Londolozi family, and extended families, about nutrition, wellness, exercise and treating health problems holistically.
Ryan: Can you give an example?
Dr. Rav: Yes. A problem that you find the world over is an attitude that pills are the answer. Of course, medication has its place, but prevention is the key. Think about diabetes. It is a disease that is on the rise everywhere, but it is preventable when individuals understand what it is and how it can be prevented by making the right lifestyle choices. At Londolozi I have spent a lot of time with individuals talking about their diets, the amount of sugar they consume daily and exercise. We have had some promising results – individuals who were on their way to diabetes who have been able to prevent that outcome by way of education. And by default, the changes that they have made will also improve the long-term health of their cardiovascular systems. The individual who is feeling healthier, stronger and more alive shares what he or she has learnt. And in any community, collective knowledge and excitement about being healthier is news worth spreading.
Ryan: What have you enjoyed most about working at the Londolozi clinic?
Dr. Rav: Over the last year I have been able to build relationships with many individuals, something that you can’t always do in a traditional medical setting. When a patient sees that you are giving them time and you are truly listening, then they will take a chance and trust what you have to say. If you replace (where possible) the “magic little pill” with patience, humanity, and education, then you are on a journey of healing and long-term health, and that is a good place to be. I believe healthcare should be about education, not just treatment, and the culture at Londolozi encourages that 100%. Londolozi’s vision talks a lot about sustainability of wildlife and land, and that message extends into health. Think about it – ask yourself what your strategy is for sustaining your long-term health. Do you have a strategy? Would you know how to put a strategy together? That’s what I try to achieve with as many patients as possible.
Ryan: So you are creating a space of “healing”?
Dr. Rav: Absolutely, and I think that is a feeling that every staff member, guest and visitor to Londolozi experiences. In 2013 we ran a number of healthcare campaigns that looked to shift the focus from “disease” to “health and rejuvenation”. Individuals come up to Gogo Mo and me excited about the changes that they made in their diets, excited about the exercise routines that they put in place for themselves. Our mission at Londolozi has been to revolutionise how people think about their own health and we are well on our way.
Ryan: Is there any general healthcare advice that you give out regularly?
Dr. Rav: Each individual is different, but a common one is water. Our bodies are made up of 70% water. Our chemical reactions, our hormones, our enzymes, our ‘detox’ process, all of these things happen in the medium of water, and so if we are dehydrated, then our natural processes become sluggish. I strongly believe that at any given time most of the world’s population is dehydrated. Drink more water and you will feel the difference. By the way, sodas or “fizzy drinks” do not count as water. Water is water. And that feeds into my second “general” message, which is to be very careful about the amount of processed sugar that you are taking in, and watch out for hidden sugars.
Ryan: Last question – is there a school of thought, medically, or an individual who has inspired your approach?
Dr. Rav: Individuals are either forced to change their attitudes to health because of an event such as a heart attack or chronic illness, or, they experience a shift in the way they approach life. That includes the way they approach their relationship with themselves, those closest to them and the natural world. These are almost always interconnected. As a person becomes healthier, they become happier. They set aside more time to invest in themselves, to invest in understanding their place in the world and how they can contribute. Two authors that explain this principle really well are Deepak Chopra (Perfect Health) and Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth). I firmly believe that the more we value ourselves and the contribution that we can make, the more we are invested in looking after all aspects of our health.
Do you have any views on long-term health investments? Have you got a strategy in place, and what new approaches to health are you incorporating into that strategy? It’s a new year and it might be a new “healthy” start for many of you, so please share your thoughts.