The world has become extremely competitive and now more than ever we need to work harder and smarter. Especially for countries lagging far behind our only source of hope to “catch up” is to be extremely healthy. No matter the economic policies, education branding we do, if we fail to priorities health then we have lost the battle well in advance. We need healthy and fit people to make them more stable and strong to complete any task easily and quickly.
On 7th April that marks World Health Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) is focused on “Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.” It is a human right to obtain the care that everyone needs, when they need it and right in the heart of the community. It may appear more difficult to attain this goal than for a “camel to go through the eye of a needle” but if the world is determined to support each other then we can cross the finish line together and how satisfying that will be.
Close your eyes and imagine a world where;
? All people and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.
? Everyone has access to the services that address the most important causes of disease and death and ensures that the quality of those services is good enough to improve the health of the people who receive them.
Then open your eyes and look at your immediate surrounding; how difficult it is to get access to well-trained health professionals, filth and poverty. People who can barely afford a single meal in days and those who overeat to the point of “creating” more diseases to add to what we are already grappling with.
Take Note of these;
More than 50% of the world’s population is unable to obtain essential health services.
About a 100 million (I believe this number is grossly underestimated) people are being pushed into extreme poverty, forced to survive on less than Ghs10 ($2) a day, because they have to pay for health services out of their own pockets.
Over 800 million people (almost 12 percent of the world’s population) spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family member. They incur so-called “catastrophic expenditures”.
Incurring catastrophic expenses for health care is a global problem. Even in the rich countries people are spending significant money out of pocket and that may sometimes delay and indefinitely postpone access to adequate healthcare. Imagine people having to wait till their conditions are so grave they have to be rushed to an emergency room so they can access care or having a prescription in hand and not having the needed cash power to convert prescription to medication. It may sound difficult to believe but some people have never had a chance to visit a healthcare facility and it’s a pure miracle when you hear of the near death situations they have survived. All these challenges open the gates for snake oil salesmen to have a field day in deprived communities
“No one should have to choose between good health and other life necessities.” It may seem farfetched but this happens every day in many parts of the world; both in poor and wealthy nations. Parents skip their medication so their children may have a meal or people drop out of school so that the extremely scarce money can be used to take care of an ill member of the family; and in most cases this is the breadwinner.
“Making health services truly universal requires a shift from designing health systems around diseases and institutions towards health services designed around and for people.” There is no point spending scare resources to build a magnificent health facility that has no equipment and no staff. Dear politicians and all others who play leading roles, kindly take note. It will be money well spent even if a well-resourced mobile clinic goes through a number of such remote communities daily or even a few days a week and of course provision of a means to communicate with a larger facility and means of physically accessing such a facility when necessary should also be a priority. Proper transportation and good roads on my mind.
The slogan “Health for All” is meaningless if we leave each person to their fate. We can only achieve #HealthForAll if we support each other. We need not look at orthodox medicine alone as the requirement for universal health and the role of preventive medicine should not be underestimated. In some communities educating people on how to prevent diseases may be paramount. In this global village one cannot sit comfortably in an ivory tower; it takes only a few hours for someone living thousands of miles away and suffering from an illness to directly or indirectly transmit it to you. Ebola, “Bird-Flu” and many others on my mind.
“Countries that invest in Universal Health Coverage make a sound investment in their human capital. In recent decades, Universal Health Coverage has emerged as a key strategy to make progress towards other health-related and broader development goals. Access to essential quality care and financial protection not only enhances people’s health and life expectancy, it also protects countries from epidemics, reduces poverty and the risk of hunger, creates jobs, drives economic growth and enhances gender equality.”
We all have a role to play and our leaders especially should set their priorities right and make the needed investment in healthcare. Precious lives need to be saved from senseless and preventable deaths. Anything short of this is a crime!! What are you doing to make health accessible to all? We should all play a role and not sit on the fence.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, ENSURE HYGIENE, 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
Health Essentials Ltd/St Andrews Clinic
*Dr. Kojo Essel is a Medical Doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in Exercise Therapy, Fitness Nutrition & Corrective Exercise.
Thought for the week – “Health is a human right. No one should get sick and die just because they are poor or because they cannot access the health services they need.” – Director General, WHO