BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Archive for January, 2019

Empowerment means equipping and arming people with the knowledge , potential and requirements to become independent or self sufficient in order to achieve a goal. Youth empowerment is a process where young people are encouraged, supported and equipped to take charge of their lives. It requires addressing negative or limiting situations so as to improve access to resources and transform oneself through beliefs, values, and actions. The aim of youth empowerment is to improve the quality of life of young people and increase dependence on oneself. This is achieved by creating and encouraging participation in youth empowerment programs such as training, education and information sessions or workshops.

The importance and benefits of youth empowerment to individuals, families, communities and nations cannot be overstated. The rationale behind empowerment is to enable participation and enhance control through shared decision making by creating opportunities to learn, practice, and increase skills. Empowerment theory predicts that engaging young people in social, knowledge-acquiring and community-enhancing activities which they define and control, allows them to gain essential skills, responsibilities, and confidence necessary to become productive and healthy adults. Youth empowerment ensures the existence of the five competencies of a healthy youth: (1) positive sense of self, (2) self- control, (3) decision-making skills, (4) a moral system of belief, and (5) pro-social connectedness.
Empowerment takes various forms and considers six interdependent areas including individual, community, organizational, economic, social and cultural.

Around the world, several youth empowerment models and programs are used to help youth achieve empowerment. These programs are available through non-profit organizations, government organizations, schools or private organizations, individual foundations. Some youths often take the initiative to empower themselves by seeking and taking advantage of these programs. Over the years, various social action and empowerment movements, including youth empowerment, educate the girl child, poverty alleviation and women empowerment spring up, and become institutionalized. Youth empowerment is often described as a marker of development, as well as a roadmap to economic growth, intergenerational equity, civic engagement and democracy building. This is because many activities such as education, business, media, rights, leadership and activism focus on the youths due to increased youth involvement in community decision-making.

Individual empowerment enhances individual’s consciousness by increasing awareness and knowledge of problems and solutions. This creates self-confidence and sufficiency in decision making and problem solving thereby increasing the quality of life. Community empowerment focuses on community enhancement through leadership development, communication, and networking to address community issues. Organizational empowerment creates a resource base for the community, including organizations and associations that protect, promote and advocate for the less privileged. Economic empowerment provides training and entrepreneurial skills including how have income security. Social empowerment teaches youth about social inclusion and literacy as well as promotes proactivity. Cultural empowerment highlights and emphasizes cultural practices, rules and norms.
These different forms of empowerment help to develop the youth in one or more aspects of their lives. The overall aim of youth empowerment programs is to create healthier and higher qualities of life for underprivileged and at-risk youth.

Fraud, according to the English dictionary, is a form of unjust, deceptive and criminal activity aimed at the perpetrator’s financial or personal gain. A fraudulent person or act is one intended to deceive others, usually by unjustifiable claims or false credits with accomplishments or qualities. The effects and consequences of fraud are far reaching and wide spread in our society, impacting homes, policies and welfare of citizens.

Informally, fraud is often referred to as scam and is of the most common and expensive crimes endured by millions of people across the world. These scammers are so difficult to avoid; they target everyone including businesses, and are present everywhere especially on the internet, and certainly the streets. Fraudsters employ a broad range of techniques while committing these crimes and some common types of fraud include: Mail Fraud, Internet Fraud, Immigration Fraud, Ponzi Scheme Fraud, License Fraud, Debit and Credit Card Fraud, Bank Account Takeover Fraud, Stolen Tax Refund Fraud, Voter Fraud and Identity Theft. Generally, Fraud has negative effects on everyone affected; most people have either been victims of fraud or know someone who has been defrauded. The following constitute some effects of fraud on individuals, and consequently, the society at large:

  • Economic downturn due to injuries to individuals or damage to properties
  • Loss in public services such as transportation, police and fire departments
  • Financial loss endured by corporations due to loss suffered by their clients
  • Physical injury or death to victims caught in the middle of a scam gone wrong
  • Emotional and psychological burdens on the fraud victims
  • Financial loss to individuals and consequent health problems
  • Distrust, prejudice and lack of confidence in the system

Fraud is a universal crime which occurs worldwide- in every nation; however, it is more common in countries without adequate anti-fraud strategies or laws to prosecute offenders. In Nigeria for example- a country where 95% of the news from all sources stem from various forms of crime, particularly violence and fraud, the above mentioned impacts of fraud abound. The emotional and psychological effects of fraud on victims are perhaps the most disturbing. Depending on the kind of fraud, these victims may become susceptible to many stress-related complications and trauma, finding it difficult to recover from their financial loss. Other feelings associated with fraud victims are loneliness, embarrassment, suicidal thoughts, incompetence, guilt, lack of confidence and loss of their sense of security and dignity- these may take years to regain.

Fraud has remained persistent in our society- growing and evolving, affecting individuals, businesses and countries alike. As anti-fraud technologies evolve and information security tightens, the cleverness of fraudsters becomes more advanced. Fraudsters are continually striving to be one step ahead of the next fraud-prevention strategy. Furthermore, as more activities move from face-to-face interaction to online and mobile transactions- which increase the likelihood of fraud, it becomes necessary to develop more elaborate and accurate fraud prevention strategies. It is also very essential to remain aware of the probabilities, types and transformations in these crimes so as not to fall victim. Noteworthy, keeping one’s confidential information safe and protecting oneself against fraud is a means of preserving well-being, given the aforementioned impacts.

Yay! The holidays are finally over and it’s time to get back to work. Actually, I’m not quite sure how many people are happy about the holidays being over but well, we don’t really have a choice :). Before we begin, BlessWorld Foundation International is using this opportunity to welcome you to a brand new year… Two thousand and nineteen! We hope you had a fabulous holiday and we wish you a happy and prosperous new year, 2019. In the spirit of the season, our first topic is to discuss the impact of the just concluded Christmas period on our health… I think this will be very interesting, so, stay tuned 🙂

The yuletide period is typically a time of celebration which commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ- a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. However, some people celebrate this period solely because it’s a general time off work and do not attach any religious or cultural significance to it. It is an annual holiday, primarily observed on December 25th, and leads on to the beginning of a new calendar year. Christmas is usually the peak selling season for most retailers as sales increase dramatically. People purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies for family, friends and even strangers to celebrate with. In the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, the Christmas sale period begins as early as October and brings in millions of dollars.

Several studies have been conducted to evaluate and assess the impact of the Christmas season on health in general. In 2011, a study titled The Christmas Effect on Psychopathology- the study of mental health, reviewed the available research on whether the Christmas holiday was more difficult than the rest of the year. The authors found that ER visits for mental health issues actually reduced during the week of Christmas. Additionally, Google search data by Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post revealed that searches for “depression”, “anxiety”, “pain”, “stress” and “fatigue”, were lowest on Christmas Day. This is great news; however, despite the joy and happiness around the yuletide season, it may be accompanied by several detrimental health effects.

More specifically, some studies show that cardiac mortality increases during the Christmas holiday period when compared to other periods in the year. Notably, a New Zealand study which used the Ministry of Health individual‐level daily mortality data for 26 years between 1988 and 2013. These findings have remained consistent among studies of this nature, suggesting that cardiac mortality does not go on holiday. Additionally, a “yuletide effect” on mortality which shows significant increase in deaths from natural causes at both Christmas and New Year’s Day has been established. Although there may be another plausible reasons for this effect; the fact that in Europe and North America, the Christmas holiday coincides with the coldest time of the year when mortality rates are already seasonally high due to low temperatures and influenza. However, some studies that used statistical techniques to eliminate the confounding effect of weather on the holiday effect still found that deaths from natural causes were almost 5% higher than would be expected if the holidays did not affect mortality.

Various factors implicated in this mortality holiday effect include emotional stress associated with the holidays; changes in food and alcohol intake; increased workload at medical facilities; changes in the physical environment; increased stress from planning, outing and partying; over eating and lack of exercise; family conflicts; alcohol misuse; loneliness; over spending and bankruptcy; mental health problems and domestic violence. Most of these factors are preventable, therefore we are encouraged to rest more, plan ahead and stay healthy/active during the yuletide period.