December 27, 2011

More health care but less health!

A contradiction of our present times is the fact that we have a huge proliferation of health care facilities in the form of clinics and hospitals which house ever more sophisticated diagnostics that can detect every bit of an anomaly in our bodies. Yet we continue to be mired in ill health indicated by the never ceasing streams of lines and throngs in emergency rooms of hospitals of the booming medical industry and medical tourism that we witness. Why is this happening? Are we nations of hypochondriacs; or sheep that just follow the shepherd in blissful compliance? In a world where information is rife on everything, where one can Google anything from how to make chicken noodle soup to the side effects of a heart valve replacement, we have the means to know also how to keep ourselves healthy. Is it that we just want to know and not do? Do we want some one else to give us our health on a platter? Do we want someone else to force us to stop our smoking even when we know that it eats up our insides ever so insidiously, even as we are knowingly carried away by the crafty advertisements that show the seeming coolness or trendiness of the portrayed smoker? It may be too late when we realize that the cilia lining our bronchi and trachea have died and become dysfunctional and we are in for lifelong emphysema. Or that we are into advanced stages of lung cancer before reality kicks in and discover we have spent a fortune making cigarette companies rich for making us sick.

The solution to our health lies in prevention; the simple acts we can do on our own that will give us health benefits to last a lifetime; Walking, regular exercise, eating wisely, shunning the risky lifestyles, and learning to love our fellow human beings (to reduce our stress). There are age old methods that we have just forgotten in the mire of the glitter that we call modernization. Our Muslim prayer is undoubtedly for the holistic elevation of our spirit, mind, and body we can pursue throughout our lives. Just imagine, if done in its completeness, it is physical exercise that adds up to about an hour of body movements in poses that are perhaps yogic in nature. And the time for silence and meditation our prayers embody gives us the silence we need, away from the constant chatter of our head. And now the ever increasing chatter of our mobile phones and other handheld electronic devises that strive never to give us a moment of silence. The Yoga and meditation as special features that have come out of the need for human beings to reach in to touch the spirit within is also there to offer us time away from the stress of life.

The practice of preventive public health measures doesn’t require us to spend our monthly income on hospital bills. We can save a big portion of this by just doing what was mentioned above. We need to be wise and respectful of our bodies much more than we do now. It’s the only one we have for a whole lifetime. Starving our bodies to make us feel good because looking thin is the style of the day, may not be the right attitude for us to carry in a regime of respecting our bodies. Keeping to good body-weight to height standards because that will reduce the burden on our joints, or lessen the stress of the pumping our hearts do to keep us alive is the way to think if we respect our body. True, it’s just a tweak of mindset. But that difference in intention makes a world of difference in the way our bodies react to the cosmic request made.

Ultimately, the health of a nation must perhaps be measured by the number of people who don't have to go to the hospital rather than the numbers who visit them. Invest in public health and you will have more money in your pocket too and the government will have less to spend on for the so called medical insurance. Both ways, Maldives will benefit as a Nation.

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