The epidemic of socially-rooted, lifestyle-driven non-communicable diseases (NCDs; also referred to as socially-transmitted conditions) has now overtaken infectious diseases as the leading cause of human mortality. Despite this reality, physician education, training and practice within industrialized nations is heavily slanted toward the biopharmaceutical (and away from the psychosocial) aspects of prevention and treatment. As we underscore, the current state of physician training and practical application of guidelines pertaining to lifestyle is paltry and untenable. However, the solution is not a few more hours of nutritional biochemistry to check off the curricula box. Physician readiness for the current NCD crisis will require a philosophical shift in medicine-at-large, including candidate pooling. Recent elections in the United States and Europe have cast a spotlight on the public health consequences of political authoritarianism. However, we highlight that authoritarianism—and its related facets of social dominance orientation and Machiavellianism—are not exclusive to political candidates. Here, we open a dialogue on authoritarianism in westernized medicine as a starting point in order to encourage the development of critical research and to explore its potential as a barrier to patient care. We suggest that authoritarianism and its prejudices act as a border wall to the World Health Organization’s broad vision of global health, cultural competency and patient autonomy. Moreover, the evidence reviewed here would suggest that in the context of the NCDs crisis, westernized medicine is long overdue a Flexner Report for the 21st Century.
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