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11.04.2007 Feature Article


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THESE DAYS, the sudden explosive growth in chronic diseases like, diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure and asthma, is the major cause of mortality in Ghana .There's a direct relationship between our diet, lifestyle and health. So there's a need to focus on our diet and physical activities. And our National Health Insurance plan should go hand in hand with the introduction of common measures in health education.

In the western world, where the consumption of natural food or organic diet is slowly becoming a “religion”, we in the under-developed world are too easily embracing genetically modified (GM) foods. Oh, for those of us who have been in the coma for the past few years, GM foods are produced from genetically modified organisms, which have had their genes altered through genetic engineering techniques— that's close enough! The developed world is staying away from the chemically saturated foods because they have been the major source of its diseases and obesity.

However, we have competitive advantage in this department. We have our snails, mushrooms, fruits, fish, edible leaves and plants. But, why are we experiencing the same poor health issues like the people in the developed world? The answer is simple: Either we don't eat enough natural food or we don't do enough physical activities. Or a little bit of both. And, knowing this piece of information is as important as the National Health Insurance, which the NPP Government has initiated.

With that in mind, there is a need for Preventive Medicine, to incorporate with the Health Insurance Scheme. This is because any health insurance plan, whether it's provided by the government or the employer, needs to invest significant amounts of its money in incentives for people to take good care of themselves—for the longevity of the plan. I believe the main objective of the national health Insurance is to make the Ghanaians healthier, so we have to focus on the activities which can make people healthy.

It's believed by the health and medical experts that by providing low-cost drugs, health-enhancing information, clinics, and promoting exercise, good diet, as well as other wellness programs, the health –care cost could be reduced markedly. Healthy people have no need to use health insurance plan very frequently. Nevertheless, if preventive medicine is not promoted vigorously, by the government and the shareholders of the Insurance Plan, it would be bankrupted in few years. Like everything else, there is a limit to what any social system can accommodate.

There's no doubt that the government- initiated health care system is a life-savior, especially, in a country like ours, where poverty-stricken majority depends on it. These people have never even seen a doctor, let alone blood Pressure and blood- sugar reading devices. However, the government, religious groups and the community leadership providing these simple devices as well as health education would go a long way in promoting good health and vitality.

Churches and Mosques can be used as health promoting 'vehicles', where the religious teachings could be incorporated with health –related teachings. Sending a medical personnel to enlighten the congregation on health matters, every other Sunday is as important as registering the uninsured for Health Insurance. I'm even tempted to mention the provision of gym equipment, but that's another whole article and for the fear of being perceived as “naïve” and a “dreamer”, I don't even want to go there. Besides, it's too much to expect something like that from towns or people who can hardly afford to replace a street light bulb.

Once on the subject, let's discuss the promoting of quality physical activities. .This is where the district assemblies and the local communities can play a meaningful role; by providing specific space where these activities can take place .I 'm talking about playing fields, jogging routes and secured environment. We can also use funeral activities as platforms to promote good health. Why not? We spend the major part of our time attending to funeral activities without discussing any major important issue pertaining to our well-being or our vitality.

Why I'm so concerned about good diet and physical activities? You should know by now that I'm not just writing about them, I'm also a victim. As I'm writing this, I'm trying to figure out a way to stay away from the junk food diet, which is part of the food culture here, in the US. My new year's resolution for 2005 was to take better care of my health. But it went by with so little accomplishment, on my part. The year 2006 went by the same way with little fanfare, because I had nothing to show for . I'm not over –weight yet, (underline “yet”) but I can surely use some few sit-ups on my abdomen. So this year I will stay away from work cafeteria and fast- food restaurants as well as computers. The food part is pretty easy, but the other part is the kicker.

This is another one. Addiction to computers is as bad as being addicted to bad diet, but life without computers will kill me faster than bad diet. Now, you have it: I'm a recovering 'computerholic' .And, definitely torn between my Pc and my health. Oh! what is on the menu, besides GM (genetically modified) food? Please, just pass me the banku with the okra soup. Ooops! I meant to say pass me the 'salad', whilst I check the news on the Web. I'm just watching my cardiovascular health—I'm trying to sound a little classy here, folks! Just a food for thought!

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi NJ USA

* The writer's a social commentator, the Chairman of Asuom Youth Club (AYC), Founder of Adu-Gyamfi Youth Empowerment and Educational Foundation and Apprenticeship Programs., for the Youth of Asuom, in the Kwaebribim District.

Akotor Asemsuro
Akotor Asemsuro, © 2007

The author has 9 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: AkotorAsemsuro

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