Health is the most precious gift of life. According to the health experts , human body is made to function with full strength, vigour and remain well for up to 122 years. We can live a healthy life till our last days. We fall sick and show signs of old age early due to neglect, lack of preventive health awareness, non-availability of preventive health doctors, lack of resources both in government and in the private sector while unhealthy environment, food and lifestyle are also the outcome.
Medical care in our societies is limited to SICK-CARE as people access health facilities only after suffering from any severe or acute attack several times causing irreversible damage.
Diseases are preventable and treatable and ageing can be delayed, optimised and reversed to a great extent. A vast majority of people start showing the signs of aging pre-maturely in 40s and 50s which is 2-3 decades earlier due to inadequate periodic preventive maintenance (PPM), a term commonly used for industrial machinery and cars and is also a fundamental requirement for accreditation and ISO certification. Alas, we do not have ISO or any other globally accepted standards for the most precious, extremely productive, highly complex and automatic biological miracle ‘human body and mind’!
The Almighty Allah guides us into healthy living, watering our lives like a garden. Health is indeed a divine favour that we take for granted. We should express gratitude to Allah for bestowing us with health, and we should try our ut-most to look after it. Allah has entrusted us with our bodies for a predestined period of time. He will hold us to account on how we looked after and utilised our body, mind and good health.
It has been narrated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “No one will be allowed to move from his position on the Day of Judgement until he has been asked how he spent his life, how he used his knowledge, how he learnt and spent his money and in what pursuits he used his health.”
The preservation of health can only be achieved through taking good care of one’s health and implementing every measure to maintain and enhance it. With this in mind every individual should make sure to undertake all necessary actions which are conducive to the preservation of good health.
Heart attack and stroke: Despite being preventable, cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes more than 20.5 million deaths every year. An estimated 90% of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is preventable. The main elements of CVD prevention are healthy diet, physical activity, avoiding tobacco, and “knowing your numbers”. Cardiac checkups and laboratory tests provide you with the data by which the status of cardiovascular health can be assessed and risk of heart attack is calculated. Guidance on how to minimise this risk is provided by trained doctors and by regular follow up and compliance it can be minimised.
Pre-diabetes and diabetes: Diabetes is the biggest health challenge affecting more than 15% of adults leading to several complications such as eye problems (retinopathy), kidney diseases leading to kidney failure that may require dialysis, diabetic foot leading to gangrene which may require amputation, heart attack and stroke, nerve damage (neuropathy), gum disease and other mouth problems. Pre-diabetics can be prevented from progressing to full-blown diabetes, diabetes can be reversed and all the complications can be prevented by appropriate strategy at an early stage.
Kidney failure and dialysis: It is a very common problem and a majority of people who have uncontrolled diabetes progress to develop kidney failure and may require dialysis and kidney transplant. Stones are very common and treatable without operation or damaging the kidney if detected early. More than 80% of kidney failures are preventable by the early diagnosis and treatment.
Tuberculosis: TB is a big challenge to our health and each year 600,000 new cases occur in Pakistan. One infected person can infect 10-12 persons every year. If we identify and treat that individual, we can prevent the spread of TB in our community. Diagnosis and treatment of is free in Pakistan. HIV infection in TB patients and vice versa are making this a lethal combination.
HIV/AIDS: HIV infection in Pakistan is increasing rapidly. It can be easily diagnosed and treated early which is the most important step to prevent transmission of HIV. Diagnosis and treatment is also provided free of cost. By testing pregnant women transmission to the babies can be prevented.
Hepatitis B and C: These both infections are affecting about 10% of our population. Hepatitis B is preventable by vaccination, which is available free of cost, also included in childhood vaccines and also provided for adults through Hepatitis programme of the government. These conditions can be diagnosed early by blood tests and damage to the liver can be minimized. Liver failure, cirrhosis, liver cancers all are preventable by early diagnosis and treatment.
High blood pressure and its complications: A very common problem especially in adult and aging population which can be diagnosed very early, and all the complications can be prevented such as heart attack and stroke. Obesity, malnutrition, Vit D, B12, Vit C, micronutrients deficiencies, anemia, thalassemia, are preventable by early diagnosis.
Vaccine preventable diseases: Including polio, tetanus, diphtheria, Shingles, Measles, mumps, rubella, rubella associated birth defects, pneumonias in young children and elderly are still commonly seen in our societies due to poor utilization of vaccine services.
Dental and oral Health: Including dental caries, cavities, discoloration, foul breath, dental decay and loss, oral cancers etc.,
Other diseases and conditions: Intestinal parasites, worms, allergies, digestive problems, bastritis, hyperacidity, ulcer, stomach and colon cancer etc. are easily preventable. Sexually transmitted infections and diseases, HPV associated cancers, etc., if detected early can be managed and complications can be prevented. Similarly, breast cancer, prostate cancer etc. may be diagnosed and treated early. Bones and joint problems commonly leading to chronic osteoarthritis of knee, requiring knee replacement etc. also can be prevented.
Aging: Aging is just an excuse for our ignorance to thrust problems into waste basket. As the human body and mind are made to function efficiently for 122 years signs of aging may be acceptable for persons over 100 years. Continuing a health oriented and preventive strategies are economically, socially and psychologically are beneficial. Memory problems, presenile dementias, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety, lack of drive, potency, infertility, sleep problems, transient ischemic attacks, hearing loss etc.
The list of conditions is exhaustive and the only solution to make the world a healthy place to live is “To shift the paradigm of medical care from sick care to health care”. We believe that “no one is safe till everyone is safe.”
The author is the President of Infection Control Society, Pakistan and Professor of Pathology, Baqai Medical University; email: email@example.com