Health News of Friday, 7 December 2012

Source: Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

A Year To Remember!

This morning I jumped out of bed with my heart racing and beads of sweat dripping down my forehead; yes I am excited and proud to be a Ghanaian. We have once again made history – an incident-free election day and thereafter and we also showcased to the world our exciting brand of democracy brewed in the Ghanaian pot. Certainly we have proved that the Blackman is capable of handling his (or her) own affairs. The great Osagyefo nodded to that. On Election Day, everyone performed, even my “friends” who supply us with electricity were up to the task. Yes! We are a beacon of democracy not only in Africa but in the whole world considering that we have a relatively young democracy.
I had less than four hours of sleep but I am wide awake and on my way to the Health Club to improve my heart health. A number of things have happened this year: Ghana lost a sitting president and an ex-vice president to the land where we all must go to, Barack Obama was re-elected as president of the world’s largest economy, in this same year the Queen of England was awakened to the fact that she may live to see her great grandchild and probable third inline to her throne. If the occupants of the throne keeping living long and remaining healthy then very soon there will be a very long queue for the coveted throne. Maybe there should be a retirement age for occupying the throne so that others can enjoy small. This same year going to church in some parts of Nigeria became quite dicey and there is also scientific evidence that your nose could betray you when you tell a lie. Unlike Pinnocchio, it may not grow longer when you tell a lie, neither will it shake playa playa but some smart folks discovered that it could get warm with each lie you tell. Make sure you do not have a common cold when your nose is going to be used as a “lie detector.”
Health Essentials is now two years old and with peace engulfing dear Ghana, we will together take responsibility for our health. This year has been eventful in this column and I am grateful to all of you who read and give me feedback. I am also thankful to the numerous readers who are unable to give feedback. If you remember any of the points we have raised in 2012, then my goal of encouraging everyone to take responsibility for their health will be on course.
On DIET, I kept my promise of doing at least one article each month. I emphasized on eating at least three meals a day and drummed home the fact that we should never skip breakfast. The benefits of fruits, vegetables and water were trumpeted several times. Do remember to eat slowly and note that fats and carbohydrates are all essential components of your meal. The “enemy” may be the person you eat with. Some people can be bad company when it comes to food; they make you overeat. Don’t let them know I asked you to avoid them when its meal time.
EXERCISE got its fair share of column space. Every time is certainly an ideal time to exercise but it appears those who manage to add it to their morning routine were more consistent but if lunch time or evenings suit your schedule remember the most important thing is to “Just Do It.” It is also extremely important to start gradually and increase duration and intensity of your exercise programme with time. I must have told you that mild to moderate exercise is all that you need since extreme exercise will not only cause more injuries, it also reduces your immunity.
Health care costs continue to rise even in the remotest corners of the world and the answer to arresting this canker is adopting a healthy lifestyle. It sure makes ECONOMIC SENSE so in addition to doing all the much talked about and keeping your surroundings clean, make sure you wash your hands with clean water and soap as often as possible and definitely after using the toilet, changing a baby or adult and before cooking. Proper HAND WASHING is surely a Do It Yourself vaccine and it is the cheapest way to fight diarrhoea and respiratory diseases in children.
We looked at my choice of FATAL SEVEN DISEASES, not in order of fatalities caused and they are Heart disease, Stroke, Cancer, Diabetes, Malaria, Diarrhoeal diseases and Accident/Unintentional deaths. There are other worrying diseases but they did not earn a call-up this year. Make sure you get screened for these diseases since many of them can be managed relatively easily when discovered early. Accidents are impossible to screen for but if you drink alcohol and drive or you talk or text on your cell phone while driving then you are increasing your risk of a road traffic accident. If you have turned your kitchen or cooking area into a playroom for children then you are setting your family up for accidents including burns. That reminds me of the need to PLAN OUR FAMILIES since a well planned family will not only empower people, it will reduce poverty as well as enhance the quality of life.
THE ELECTION FEVER did not overshadow the medical FEVER and my take home message was “not all fever is malaria.” Fever which is an increase in temperature may be caused by several things including, infections, trauma or injury, certain medication and diseases and even immunization.
If you belong to the group that preaches that AGE IS JUST A NUMBER, then think again. If you do not adopt the right lifestyle your brain, heart, lungs, muscles and bones will let you down when you least expect. Every healthy 80-year old I know, walks virtually every day and most of them have been doing that for over 40 years. There are some 30 year olds who can barely climb up two flights of stairs without panting like a fish out of water. Do fishes pant? I hope you get the drift.
In 2012, I pleaded with OUR PRESIDENT to start a fitness programme and do regular medical examinations in Ghana. It is crucial to have a doctor in our beloved country that can take care of his health and so should you and I.
I am glad you are all aware that YOU CAN NEGOTIATE ANYTHING; EVEN YOUR HEALTH and that is the absolute truth. You should be comfortable enough with your healthcare professional to ask questions. You may even remind him/her that you are due for screening for a health condition and always remember that building a good rapport with your doctor sets the stage for getting the best out of the healthcare system.
So with the above covered and many more it is not surprising that MY DREAM lives on; my dream of a healthy and wealthy Ghana where peace reigns supreme. A dream of a Ghana where wellness programmes are a requirement in every workplace and locality, a Ghana where children are taught to be healthy in school and our budgets make provision for keeping us healthy and fit.
We are all celebrating our success at once again raising the bar for elections and some are celebrating their party’s victory. Remember to tone down the NOISE since it may not be healthy for you and your neighbours. Let us all continue to live peacefully.


Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel, MBChB, MBA
Moms’ Health Club

*Dr Essel is a medical doctor and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.