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Wednesday, 22 October 2014


Health status remains one of the determinants of well-being that is often underestimated, taken for granted and least appreciated; nevertheless it remains core to our continued existence on this side of the world. It should be clear to us that, not even our occupation, belief, social status, educational attainment on their own can bail us out when our health fails. A patient with serious debilitating disease will probably not go to work, neither will he attend functions, nor remember his beliefs but his only desire will be to get healed. Furthermore, quality of life of the citizens of a country is no longer dependent solely on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of such nation, but also on life expectancy at birth (which is a health status indicator) and literacy level of the populace. If not, how do you relate a country with the largest GDP in a continent yet majority of its citizen struggle daily to meet their basic physiological needs of food, shelter and clothing? A nation where achieving security needs is practically impossible. A land where meeting one's social need is considered out of place and aspiring to attain one's esteemed need would mean asking for too much. In this part of the world, the vicious cycle of poverty, ignorance and disease is inseparable!

Learning from the foregoing, health status is not only a determinant of an individual’s well-being but it is also an economic parameter that measures the well-being of a country. If our health status is so sacrosanct to our general well-being, why are some folks handling it with so much levity and triviality? Truth be told, if health is not lost there is no point trying to restore it. Staying healthy like I always say is cheaper than getting treated, it however requires some commitment like searching for correct health information, sustaining healthy lifestyle through discipline and psychological training and re-training. The recent “Ebola and salt water hoax” however shows how far we are lagging behind. Why do we discard sound health information and keep proclaiming ignorance despite the resources at our disposal? Here are some reasons:

Firstly, people are most times lazy and tend to respond only to easy solutions. Getting things done fast, easy and at practically no cost has blinded us to the most obvious facts of life. Sadly, this mindset has invaded not only the way we handle our health or information related to health but other facets of our lives has also suffered.If salt and water could cure Ebola why would United States be spending so much to manufacture a vaccine? Why would grants be given solely to develop a drug, if common table salt and water at any random concentration was equally effective? Health Information is everywhere, yes; on Google world, Twitter street, Facebook domain etc, but always check with a medical professional, you might just save yourself from a catastrophic health event! Information is power but negative information is paralysis in itself.

Moreover, terms like health risk, risky behavior and relative risk seems intangible and distant to most people. The notion that, if it is not happening to me now, it can never happen to me should be very well considered. Hypertension for example is primarily a hereditary disease; also men with hypertensive parents have over four-fold increase in risk (chances) of developing Hypertension after the age of 30-35years. This risk can be increased further by indulging in risky behaviors like smoking, drinking alcohol, increased stress and increased salt intake. In other to reduce the risk of hypertension in such people, we do advise them to quit smoking, stop drinking, reduce salt in diet, avoid too much stress, exercise more and take more fruits. These are scientific facts which holds true in most cases. My sincere appeal is that if you are at risk of hypertension, do not wait till stroke sets in and you can't move your limbs. Consult your physician for check up and begin those lifestyle modification stated above in earnest.

Lastly, people’s priority and problems also cloud their sense of judgment and affect their disposition towards sourcing or using health information at their disposal. Truly if one can’t figure where the next meal is coming from, one might probably not be bothered if the food one gets after waiting for two days or more was prepared in the toilet. This cycle of poverty, ignorance and disease has to broken at some point. The preponderance of poverty in this country is only a pointer that our government really needs to do more. Be that as it may, ignorance which is the next culprit is a choice we have to make. If we choose information we get good health in return but if we choose ignorance we get disease and as such perpetuate the vicious cycle. For so many people, health information is still regarded as intangible and should not compete with more tangible realities in their lives, but is that position safe? Remember if one's health falters, life may crumble. Maintaining healthy status is an end, getting sound health information and implementing it through a positive behavior change is a means to this end. Health they say is wealth, but shall we continue in ignorance and expect our health to blossom? 

Charles T. Olomofe (M.B.Ch.B)    

Health and Behavioral Change Advocate 

@Chartol1 on twitter

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