BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Archive for October, 2016

Similar to many other determinants of health, poverty is both a cause and a consequence of poor health. As a cause of poor health, poverty reflects limited resources available for an individual to access adequate health care while as a consequence; poor health prevents an individual from being gainfully employed or sustaining an employment thereby leading to poverty.

The relationship between health and poverty cannot be overemphasized. Poverty perpetuates poor health because it compels people to live in environments that cause them to become sick, without affordable and basic housing, clean water and adequate hygiene. Moreover, poor living conditions which are always associated with poverty can contribute to the spread of infectious diseases namely Anthrax, Chickenpox, Influenza, Measles, Smallpox, Cryptococcosis, and Tuberculosis. In addition, poorer countries always have the worst health outcomes compared to richer countries. These outcomes are measured using health indicators such as infant/maternal mortality rate, life expectancy and prevalence of infectious diseases.

According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O), approximately one-fifth- 1.2 billion people in our world today live in extreme poverty which is defined as living on less than one dollar per day. Extreme poverty is considered the worst case of poverty which means that much more people than 1.2 billion are still poor. On a global scale, W.H.O plays a major role in reducing poverty by supporting countries to design and implement ‘pro-poor’ health policies such as global advocacy, regional initiatives and providing direct support to ministries of health in developing countries.

The question is…what can we do to reduce poverty on an individual level?

Smoking is a major public health problem and the leading cause of preventable death (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004). It has negative health effects on people at every stage of life- unborn babies, children, teenagers, adults, and seniors (Rana Naveed ur Rehman, 2013). According to the American Lung Association, smoking can lead to dreadful diseases and health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, stroke, asthma, diabetes, lung cancer and other types of cancer (American Lung Association, 2016). Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths with about 171,900 new cases occurring in 2003. Smoking harms every organ of the body and worldwide, over 5 million people die of smoking related diseases annually (Rana Naveed ur Rehman, 2013).

Despite the deadly warnings clearly printed on most cigarette packs, smokers are adamant to these warnings. As with other forms of addiction, smokers ignore the negative consequences and costs of smoking due to the addictive ingredient, nicotine (Rana Naveed ur Rehman, 2013). Cigarette smoke contains many toxic chemical agents including acetone, ammonia, arsenic, formaldehyde, cadmium, shellac, benzene and cyanide (Rana Naveed ur Rehman, 2013). Biologically, when smoking, nicotine is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and reaches the brain in less than one minute of entering the body. It then stimulates the discharge of special chemicals such as adrenaline, which triggers a pleasurable and thrilling feeling. This feeling however, disappears after smoking as quickly as it was initiated and can be re-initiated by another episode of smoking. Consequently, it follows a cycle of excitement and depression which leads to addiction- frequent episodes of smoking in order to initiate pleasurable feelings and become excited. In addition to nicotine, carbon mono-oxide and Tar which are also contained in smoke can increase the risk of heart diseases and lung damage respectively.

Besides the harmful effects of smoking on the smoker, people in the immediate environment of smokers can also be affected- this is referred to as second hand or passive smoking. Everyone, irrespective of gender or age, has the potential of being affected by smoking related health conditions but there are additional health effects which are specific to men, women and children. For example, smoking can cause low sperm count in men and could lead to other fertility problems. For women, smokers who take birth control pills find it more difficult to conceive and may suffer thrombosis when compared to non-smokers (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004). Finally, children who are within the environment of smokers or who are regularly exposed to smoke have a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), behavior disorders, bronchitis and pneumonia (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , 2004 and Rana Naveed ur Rehman, 2013).

Many studies have proved that unemployment has negative consequences on the health of individuals. This is because for most people, the time of unemployment represents the hardest phase of their life. A study (Dorling, D. 2009) in the United Kingdom showed that people who were securely employed recovered faster from illnesses compared to unemployed people. Additionally, the study also confirmed that unemployment increases rates of nuisance, crime and mental health problems such as depression and suicide. After all, it’s mostly people who are busy doing nothing that have the time to cause trouble.

Don’t get me wrong, some people may choose or even enjoy being unemployed… you know, freedom from hard work, tight deadlines, overbearing customers and horrible bosses. However, for most of us, being unemployed or not having anything to do can be extremely boring and stressful… you know, absence of money, motivation, confidence and even health! In fact, another study (Pharr, J. R., Moonie, S., & Bungum, T. J. 2011) in the United States concluded that unemployed people had significantly worse perceived physical and mental health profiles, were more unlikely to afford health services and were less likely to access health care than participants who were employed or voluntarily unemployed. Furthermore, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), losing a job is grievous and is accompanied by loss of income, personal work relationships, daily structures, and a sense of purpose.

Given the above evidence, we can agree that certainly, we are better off employed or working than being idle… even the holy book teaches that an idle mind is the workshop of evil. So, go get a job… get busy!

Headache is one of the symptoms of most illnesses and is defined as a pain in the head… just as the name suggests. Headaches are very common ailments and most people have experienced one or more at different points in their life. In any given year, almost 90% of men and 95% of women have at least experienced a headache… so you’re not alone! They are caused by different reasons and can affect anyone regardless of age, race and gender.

Did you know that most headaches are caused by stress, lack of sleep, hunger and weather changes? Did you also know that depression is three times more common in individuals with severe headaches than in healthy people? Given the time of the year (cold period), we need to take extra caution to prevent weather related headaches by keeping warm always!

Three most common headaches are tension, sinus, and migraine… however, not every kind of headache fits into these categories. For treatment, over the counter medications such as pain killers may be useful but always seek advice from a healthcare professional. In general, to prevent or treat a headache: reduce stress, ensure you drink enough water, get enough sleep, eat properly and don’t forget to keep warm!

It’s another exciting topic about health… health and the media! No doubt the media is central to our decisions and actions in general, and health in particular, given that this is the internet age. This strong influence is very evident in how much we watch, listen, like, comment, share and follow updates and sites that speak on health or wellness matters. A quick question… how many times have you chosen to do something that may affect your health or well being simply because you read or saw it on social media, movie or even heard it in a song? I’m guessing a lot of times!

The sad truth is, many times, what we hear and learn from the media, be it from individuals or organizations, are false or incomplete truths because the producers or sources of these messages often have particular agendas which influence the message to some extent. Hence, it lies in our judgment to either accept or reject media messages especially because there is no accountability on the part of the sources and the consequences of our actions are ours to bear. We must therefore exercise this sense of judgment by making a conscious effort to verify the validity of what we hear or read trough more credible sources- this is solely our responsibility. Cheers and be wise 🙂