Health News of Friday, 4 January 2013
Source: Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Is it not amazing? A brand new year and we have a virtually clean sheet with endless possibilities. Many of us have resolved to save more money, work harder, stay healthier and spend more time doing the will of God. A handful of us will certainly keep to our resolutions beyond the first quarter but for the majority of us 31st January may even be beyond our reach. I wish I could tell you what to expect in 2013 but unfortunately I do not have a crystal ball and neither am I endowed with the power of visualizing the future.
I may be able to hazard a few guesses such as; Hillary Clinton will finally leave hospital with a clean bill of health and thank the world for the concern shown. Venezuelan strongman Chavez will spend many more days away from the inquisitive eyes of the media and one super former world leader will teach the world how to live and enjoy life even in the face of severe adversity. These are fairly easy to predict based on current happenings and all my other health related predictions for 2013 will follow a similar pattern. No scientific method has been used in arriving at the conclusions and you may also draw up your list.
Many of the challenges we will face are not new and the bottom line continues to be poverty. To worsen matters, a portion of the extremely inadequate resources that will go the way of the health sector will be “misallocated.”
Every year we discuss Sanitation in Ghana but only when the rains start and Cholera outbreaks begin to claim lives. Precious lives that we need for nation building and probably voting in the next election will be lost. What are we doing to prevent yearly deaths from a preventable disease such as Cholera? In 2013 there will be the usual filth engulfing many of our cities. There will also be several outbreaks of cholera and as usual there will be a last minute “effort” to mobilize fluids and medication to reduce the number of deaths as well as request for funding to motivate personnel. Why can’t we start doing something now? Continuous health education, enforcement of laws and getting rid of filth in the dry season instead of waiting till havoc knocks on our doors may be a better way out.
Under 5 mortality will see a marginal decrease thanks to modifications in managing diarrhoea and new vaccines for respiratory diseases but who is the mouth piece of those in the rural areas far from a proper health facility and lacking health personnel. I keep getting these visions that a single V8 Toyota Land Cruiser could change this scenario for at least one village but there are more “important” people who need to ride in style so that they can make great decisions for the country. Dear Ghanaian who voted in December for a new president and a member of parliament, I am not too sure if your newborn child will see his fifth birthday, but I will continue to pray with you. For now please make sure you are well versed in washing your hands properly with soap and water.
HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Guinea Worm, Polio and Malaria control will all see some improvement but we will not cover as much mileage as expected because donor funding will reduce. We have been expecting that haven’t we?
Non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes will continue to wallow in darkness for one simple reason; there is no external funding coming in. Sometimes I really pinch myself very hard to make sure I am awake. We obviously know these diseases are costing us many lives, money and productive days but just because there are no big bucks for our pockets we will continue to see more people acquire these lifestyle diseases in 2013 and beyond. Education and medical screening will go a long way to halt this trend and it is much cheaper than the alternative. I hope Ghanaian companies will step up and be counted as leading the crusade to curb the devastating effects of these diseases.
In 2013 more women will get screened for breast cancer as well as cervical cancer. Women are smart or good at fighting for their “rights” or probably both? They tend to get screened for some of their most probable cancers either through health insurance or through funding of a sort. Gentlemen, we are hard nuts to crack and even prostate cancer screening is rare. In 2013 nothing will change, there will still be few men going for voluntary prostate cancer screening and certainly we will not be able to get it on the National Health Insurance Scheme.
I would have loved more people to request for a colonoscopy on their fiftieth birthday to screen for colon cancer but I doubt if we will make any progress in 2013.
I expect at least a 10% increase in the number of people who plan to start exercising and eating healthy but about 90% of these people will end up with just the thought but will never get started practically.
Will the minister of health have a relatively easy job this year? I think whoever will wear that crown has a lot on his or her plate and the agitation for “equality” or equitable distribution or other fanciful terminologies will continue unabated. Is there a way to permanently solve this never ending crisis? There certainly must be but someone needs to put in the effort to decode the deafening silence.
Ghana so far pretends we are immune from the effects of Climate Change and I do not expect any major changes but with aunt Sherry’s recent international award there may be some positive vibes coming from that sector. National Health Insurance will survive the year but do not expect to see the one time premium become a reality. Unnecessary road traffic accidents will continue simply because our terrible roads remain death traps, drivers are poorly trained, drunk driving and using a phone while driving are not clamped down.
There is one thing that is crystal clear to me unlike the other predictions that I made above and that is in 2013 diabetes will take centre stage in all my articles.
It is my wish that as a country we exceed all my expectations for 2013, but the road is quite foggy blurring all my pictures for 2013 and there does not appear to be significant commitment to bring about change.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Moms’ Health Club
*Dr Essel is a medical doctor and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.
Thought for the week –“Good Health is a prerequisite for Development.”