BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative




Dietary supplements vitamins, fibre, minerals, fatty acids, herbs and amino acids that supply nutrients to the body. They are manufactured and extracted from food and may come in form of tablets, capsules, gummies, powders and liquids. They nourish the body and help in boosting overall health and well-being. Medical professionals prescribe dietary supplements in cases of certain health problems or in situations where the body lacks vital nutrients in sufficient amounts. Common nutrients found in supplements are folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin B, iron, fiber, vitamin C, potassium.

Supplements do not replace the variety of foods and their nutritional values, instead they complement and enhance nutrition. They reinforce nutrition from foods by giving the body essential nutrients that are either deficient or not available from foods.
Supplements are not drugs and as such do not serve medicinal purposes like treatment of diseases. The United States Food and Drug Administration opines that a dietary supplement designed to treat or prevent the symptoms of an illness is a drug and is subject to the rules that apply to drugs. Supplements are different from foods and drugs and should never take the place of either.

There are benefits of taking supplements. According to American physician, Steven Gundry: “getting all the nutrients you need simply cannot be done without supplements”.
One of the many benefits of taking supplements is that they supply the body with adequate nutrients that it may not have gotten from food thereby ensuring a healthy nutrient filled eating routine. Another benefit of supplements is that it boosts overall health and wellness. Some dietary supplements can help regulate some health conditions or reduce the risk of certain diseases. Supplements may be used to treat vitamin or nutrient deficiency in circumstances where the body cannot get adequate vitamins from food. For example vitamin D supplements can be used to correct vitamin D deficiency, iron supplements for Iron deficiency and supplements high in calcium for strengthening the bones. Supplements may help enhance immunity and guard the body against certain illnesses. Supplements are also very beneficial to people who exempt certain food groups from their diets like vegans and vegetarians. These people are at risk of certain deficiencies because some nutrients can only be gotten from livestock products. They can however fill such gaps by taking supplements.

It is important to consult a healthcare professional before purchasing and taking supplements because of the disadvantages and health risks involved. Firstly, supplements may have side effects if taken alongside some medications and may cause serious health issues as a result. Intake of supplements may cause some allergic reactions or in some cases, complicate surgeries. Another disadvantage of taking supplements is overdosing. One may begin to overdose because a supplement is slow to show results or because a little goes a long way so more should do wonders. It is important to consult a medical professional on the right amount of dosage to be taken. A third disadvantage is that some dietary supplements may not indicate some active ingredients in the label or may not specify the exact quantity of ingredients contained in the supplement thereby misleading its consumers.

Despite these potential shortcomings, supplements remain important nutritional sources that can complement food nutrient to provide the body with its robust and complete nutrient needs.

Food Safety



Food safety also known as food hygiene involves utmost care in handling food beginning from the point of production to the point of consumption. It is sometimes described as “From farm to fork”.[1] Safe food handling is critical to food safety and good health. The consequences of handling of food unsafely include increased risks of food borne illnesses such as diarrhea, nausea, fever and stomach cramps[2]. Food unsafe for human consumption may contain bacteria, viruses or parasites which can cause food poisoning.[3] According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, an estimate of about 48 million people fall ill from foodborne diseases annually with about 128, 000 hospitalizations and 3, 000 deaths[4].

The five keys to safer food developed by WHO in 2001 are aimed to educate people about safety regarding food handling behaviours. These keys consist of simple and practical methods to promote food safety, and include:

  • Keeping food clean
  • Cooking all food thoroughly
  • Separating raw food from cooked food
  • Storing food at safe temperatures
  • Using clean water and raw materials while cooking

These factors are considered to ensure that food is kept free from contamination. During preparation, food should be cooked at the right temperature, checking with a food thermometer so as to kill germs[5]. Also, proper separation of food items, particularly raw and cooked foods, should be maintained to avoid cross contamination. For example, eggs or raw meat shouldn’t be kept with food already prepared as this can spread germs[6]. It is also advised to use a different knife and cutting board for raw and cooked food to prevent transfer of germs.[7] Regarding food storage and processing, food should be properly frozen and thawed safely, or refrigerated. In keeping food safe, good sanitation practices such as washing of hands repeatedly with soap and clean water should be employed. Also, general knowledge and compliance with global food safety standards should be enforce when handing food for the public.[8] Food should be prepared, stored and processed in ways that will prevent foodborne diseases.

The benefits of keeping food safe are numerous. One is the reduction in the prevalence of food poisoning. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 600 million people in the world fall sick yearly from eating unsafe food.[9] Another is the protection of public health.[10] Contaminated food is a threat to public health[11]and must be treated as such. Everybody involved in the food chain owes a duty of care to keep food safe and free from contamination. Keeping food safe reduces wastes associated with spoilt food and  solves the problem of food insecurity[12]. A lot of people do not eat in restaurants because of fear of food poisoning. However, if everyone involved in the food chain plays a role in keeping food safe, the issue of food insecurity will be resolved.

In the words of Michael Johanns, “Food safety involves everybody in the food chain”. Everyone from the food manufacturers to the final consumers should be actively involved in ensuring safety of food because safe food guarantees good health.
















Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. As children grow, parents make conscious efforts to ensure they instill the habit of eating vegetables as a staple in the everyday meal plan of their child. This is primarily because of the health benefits of vegetables. Every individual, children and adults alike ought to adopt a pattern of eating vegetables daily to ensure a healthy, balanced diet. In the words of former American politician, Doug Larson: “Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacons.” While it is true that some vegetables don’t smell or taste good, there is a wide range of options to choose from since it is essential to inculcate continuous consumption of a variety of vegetables in our diet.

Vegetables are parts of plants such as the leaves, the fruits and the roots of plants which are safe for human consumption.[1] Vegetables are considered staple foods because they are locally sourced and readily available foods in most countries of the world.[2] As reported by the food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, there are about 1000 types of vegetables in the world.[3] Some common examples of vegetables are tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, cucumbers, eggplants, onions, broccolis and a lot more. Vegetables form an extensive part of human sustenance in various parts of the world.[4]Vegetables can be cooked and dished in many ways. They can be steamed, fried, boiled or eaten raw.[5] Like fruits, vegetables are seasonal. This means that the availability and accessibility of varied vegetables is dependent on what time of the year it is. However, some vegetables are available in every time and season. Vegetables are categorized or grouped based on what part of a plant that is edible. Some categories of vegetables are: 

  • Root vegetables: examples of these vegetables are onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.
  • Leaf vegetables: examples of these vegetables are lettuce, cabbages, broccolis, etc.
  • Fruit vegetables: examples of these vegetables are cucumbers, eggplants, etc.

The health benefits of eating vegetables cannot be overemphasized. Vegetables are highly nutritional because they stem from plants which are abundant in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.[6] Vegetables generally have little amounts of calories and are mostly composed of highly beneficial dietary fiber and water.[7] Given the associated benefits of fibre and water, vegetables have been linked to regulation of blood sugar and reduction of death rate.[8] Research shows that meals rich in vegetables reduce chances of cardiovascular diseases.[9] Vegetarian diets have also been shown to reduce blood pressure, decrease the possibilities of heart diseases and help deter some types of cancer.[10] The world health organization suggest that everybody should consume not less than five servings of varied vegetables daily.[11] No vegetable can solely provide all the nutrients needed for the body to keep fit.[12] Thus, vegetarian diets must be served as meals consisting of a variety of vegetables to ensure a healthy diet. Vegetables are numerous and they serve varied nutritional purposes accordingly to the body. This means that carrots do not perform the same nutritional functions as broccolis. We shall now look at the diverse nutritional functions of some varied vegetables to the human body. 

Carrots are rich in vitamins A, fiber, and potassium and are also a great source of antioxidants and beta- carotene which have been revealed to help reduce the risk of some types of cancer.[13] Carrots have been shown to aid weight-loss and enhanced eye sight.[14] Carrots are abounding in fiber which may impede the development of type 2 diabetes.[15]Broccolis are a good source of vitamin c, vitamin k, iron, fiber[16] and have been shown to also lower the risk of diabetes and reducing the chances of developing some types of cancer.[17] Cucumbers are abounding in potassium, magnesium, dietary fiber. Habitual consumption of cucumbers have been shown to be lower the risks of heart diseases and reduce blood pressure.[18] Cucumbers have also been shown to aid hydration and bowel movement.[19] Cucumbers are also great for keeping the skin healthy and strengthening the bone.[20]

Conclusively, as rightly said by the American physician and author, Michael Greger: “We should all be eating fruits and vegetables as if our lives depend on it- because they do.” This goes to show beyond doubt, how essential the consumption of vegetables is to the human body.























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Water is an essential part of our everyday lives; we need water to quench our thirst, to have our bath, to make our meals, to survive. The words of renowned poet, H. Auden: “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water” goes to show the essentiality of water and how fundamental it is to life form existence. Water covers about 71% of the earth’s surface and the human body is made up of about 60% of water. It is trite knowledge that water is one of the three basic needs of all living things, without which no creature on earth will survive.

Water is a substance composed of the chemical elements hydrogen and oxygen and existing in gaseous, liquid and solid states. The chemical formula for water is H2O. The two major types of water are ground water and surface water. The latter is water that is on the earth’s surface in oceans, lakes, rivers, icecaps, glaciers whereas the former is water beneath the earth’s surface.

Water has both physical and chemical properties. The most basic and widely known physical property of water is its appearance which is that water is colorless, odorless and tasteless. However, other physical properties of water include the boiling point of water. This is the temperature at which water changes its state from liquid to gaseous state otherwise known as steam or vapor. The boiling point of water is 100°C or 212°F. The freezing point of water is another physical property of water. This is the temperature at which the water changes from liquid to solidstate, otherwise known as ice or frozen water. The freezing point of water is 0°C or 32°F. Another physical property of water is that it has a polar nature. This means that water is capable of dissolving more substances than any other liquid. This is why water called the universal solvent. Other physical properties of water according to unacademy are:1. The density of water which is the ratio of mass of water to its volume depending on the temperature of the water.2. The specific heat capacity of water which is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of water.3. The viscosity of water which is the tendency of water to resist any change in its shape or motion4. The surface tension of water which is the capacity of water to get shrunken in the minimum surface area.

One of the chemical properties of water is that is that it can act as both acid and base. This means that water is amphoteric in nature.

Water can be classified into two types: Hard and soft water. This classification is based on the mineral content of water. The hardness of water is determined by the amount of calcium and magnesium present in it. Hard water contains high amounts of calcium and magnesium while soft water is free from these minerals.

The benefits of water are endless. In the human body, one of the many benefits of drinking water are:

Hydration: Health experts recommend that an adult person should take eight- ounce glasses of water daily which is about 2 litres of water. Staying hydrated also helps in maintaining one’s body temperature. 

Lubrication: Water is crucial for many bodily functions such as lubricating the joints, Transportation: Water delivers oxygen throughout the body, preventing kidney damage.

Digestion: Water aids digestion. Health experts confirm that drinking water before, during and after one’s meal will help the body break down the food more easily.

Conclusively, the importance of the water cannot be overstated. The popular saying: “water is life” to a great degree depicts the immeasurable value of water. Water goes beyond its chemical formation, water is vital for the existence of all living creatures.




Fruits are mature, ripe and edible ovaries of plants. They provide nourishment to animals, may be seed-containing or seedless, sweet or sour tasting, and can be consumed raw or cooked, depending on the type.  There are over two thousand (2,000) varieties of fruits around the world, and some fruits are more likely to grow in some climates or parts of the world. While some fruits are seasonal- being available and affordable only at certain times of the year, others remain available all year round irrespective of seasons. According to Better Health- an Australian health information channel, fruits are grouped based on some similarities as follows:

  • Apples and pears
  • Citrus including oranges, grapefruits, mandarins and limes
  • Stone fruits such as nectarines, apricots, peaches and plums
  • Tropical fruits like bananas, pineapples and mangoes
  • Berries including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwifruit and passionfruit
  • Melons like watermelons, rock melons and honeydew melons
  • Tomatoes and avocados

The importance and benefits of fruits in a healthy diet cannot be overstated. Many vitamins, minerals and compounds needed for efficient body functioning are naturally occurring in fruits. Fruits have a variety of colours and  similar coloured fruits may contain similar chemical compounds needed for the body. For instance, red fruits such as watermelon and tomatoes contain lycopene- an organic pigment, powerful anti-oxidant and protective carotenoid compound which can prevent some cancers by protecting cells from damage. Additionally, bluish black fruits such as blue and black berries contain anthocyanin- a pigment associated with improved memory, heart health and brain function. Diets rich in anthocyanin may possess anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-cancerous and  antimicrobial properties. It is therefore essential to enjoy a vast range of fruit types and colours due to the differences in their nutritional components, providing the body with diverse minerals, vitamins, antioxidants,  and fibre,  for an array of health benefits., 

Notable nutrients present in fruits include vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, Vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and folic acid.  The following are some of the many  benefits of Fruits:

  • Regulate blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Prevent overeating by keeping us full longer
  • Facilitate weight loss
  • Promote digestive health and vision
  • Reduce risk of stroke, some cancers and cardiac problems
  • Reduce the risk of diabetes
  • Protect the body from chronic diseases
  • Speed up wound healing

Research shows that nutrients absorbed from fruits are more beneficial than nutrients from supplements due to a higher potency of these nutrients in fruits. Given the extensive benefits of fruits, two servings are recommended daily for a healthy balanced diet. More importantly, it is necessary for these fruits to be of various types and colours to get all possible nutrients. The following serving methods and  tips are helpful to  incorporate fruits into daily diet:

  • Enjoy lots of fruit  salad
  • Buy fruits when they are in season for affordability
  • Explore canned and dried fruits options
  • Snack on raw fruits
  • Try new fruits and eat a variety of colours

Diets devoid of, or lacking sufficient amounts and varieties of fruits can cause deficiencies in essential vitamins and nutrients needed by the body. For instance, scurvy, bleeding disorders and night blindness are diseases associated with deficiency of vitamins and minerals. These can be prevented by eating a fruit-rich balanced diet.

Vitamins are organic micronutrients required by the body to perform a range of functions. They need to be obtained from our diet because our bodies are not able to produce them. Vitamins are generally classified as either fat soluble or water soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. These vitamins have the unique characteristic of dissolving in organic solvents such as fat, and tend to be stored in the body in large quantities.

On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins, they can only  be absorbed by the body in a solution of water, hence they cannot be stored. All unused or unabsorbed water-soluble vitamins are excreted from the body through urine. 

All vitamins are required in certain amounts by the body. Nutrient reference values, also known as dietary reference intakes (DRI) are developed and recommended by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in the United States. These DRIs form the scientific and medical basis for good nutrition and food guidelines in both the U.S. and Canada. DRIs may differ based on age, gender, health status, and stage of life. For most people, DRI for all vitamins can be obtained by eating a healthy, balanced diet. However, some others may require higher amounts of some vitamins due to their lifestyle or health conditions. These extra amounts of vitamins can be sourced from vitamin supplements in consultation with a health professional. 

Benefits and sources of Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is essential for proper visual functions and for maintaining normal mucous membranes. It is naturally occurring in animal food including liver, milk, and eggs. Also, some processed foods such as margarines, and certain breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin A.
Vitamin D: When converted to the active form in the liver, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the intestines. Additionally, it positively influences bone mineralization and maintains blood concentrations of calcium and phosphate. Two forms of vitamin D are important in body functions, Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) which is made by the ultraviolet (UV) irradiation of ergosterol, and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) which is formed when sunlight acts on the skin. 

Vitamin E: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that protects polyunsaturated fatty acids from rupturing in cell membranes. The highest source of vitamin E is vegetable oils, others include nuts, whole grains, and wheat germ. Animal foods are not rich sources of Vitamin E.

Vitamin K: Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting factors in the liver. Like vitamin D, there are two derived forms, Vitamin K1, (phylloquinone) which is synthesized by plants, and vitamin K2 (menaquinones) which is synthesized by microflora of the gut. Dietary sources of vitamin K include dark-green leafy vegetables, cereals, meats, and fruits.

Water-soluble vitamins

Vitamin C: Also known as Ascorbic acid, vitamin C protects the body cells, maintains a healthy skin, and facilitates wound healing. Lack of, or below DRI levels of vitamin C causes scurvy while excess amounts (over 1,000mg per day) may cause stomach-ache, diarrhoea, and gassiness. Vitamin C is found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables including oranges, peppers, and broccoli.

Vitamin B:

There are eight (8) types of vitamin B and they are thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, biotin (vitamin B7), folate and folic acid, and vitamin B12.

Thiamin (vitamin B1): Thiamin helps in the breakdown and release energy from food as well as in keeping the nervous system healthy. Sources are peas, liver, nuts, and bananas.

Riboflavin (vitamin B2): Riboflavin performs the same functions as thiamine by releasing energy from food and keeping the skin, eyes, and nervous system healthy. Sources are milk, eggs, mushrooms, and yoghurt.

Niacin (vitamin B3): Niacin maintains skin health, participates in energy release from food and preserves  the nervous system. Sources include meat, fish, and wheat flour.

Pantothenic acid: Pantothenic acid has several functions, such as helping the body to release energy from food. Sources of pantothenic acid are chicken, and eggs.

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6): Pyridoxine facilitates the use and storage of energy from protein and carbohydrates in food. Sources are pork, peanuts, chicken, oats, and soya beans.

Biotin (vitamin B7): Biotin is needed in very small amounts to help the body make fatty acids. It is found at low levels in a wide range of foods. Sources include milk and fortified cereals.

Folate and folic acid: Folate helps the body make red blood cells and reduces the risk of neural tube defects in unborn babies. Folic acid is the synthesized form of folate and lack of folate causes anaemia. Sources include broccoli, leafy green veggies, Brussel sprouts and fortified cereals.

Vitamin B12: This vitamin plays a role in making red blood cells and keeping the nervous system stable. It also releases energy from food like many B vitamins. Lack of vitamin B12 may lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia. Sources are meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs.

In addition to Carbohydrates and proteins, fats are a major source of energy, providing structure and cushion to cells and membranes. Fats are more energy dense than carbohydrates and proteins and contain 9 calories per gram, in contrast to 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates and proteins. Fats are fundamental part of a healthy, balanced diet and are the body’s only source of essential fatty acids, since these can not be made by the body. Similar to carbohydrates and proteins, unused fat is converted into body fat and stored as residual energy sources.

The following are the functions of Fats in the body:

  • Prevent damage to the organs by providing cushion.
  • Absorb nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Maintain normal levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. 
  • Store and provide energy. 
  • Support cell growth.

According to the American Heart Association, there are four major dietary fats in food including:

  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats
  • Monounsaturated fats
  • Polyunsaturated fats)

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are types of unsaturated fats.The different types of fat have varying chemical composition and structures, and consequently, vary in their physical properties. Based on these, saturated fats and trans fats are considered ‘bad’ and appear solid in room temperature while unsaturated fats- monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated are considered ‘good’ fats remain liquid in room temperature. Fats play an essential role in determining the cholesterol level of the body. Good and bad fats have various effects on the body’s cholesterol level. For instance, diets high in good fats increases the body’s good cholesterol level, also called high-density lipoprotein (HDL). In the same vein, diets high in bad fats increases the body’s bad cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

Sources of good fat include tofu, flaxseed, avocados, olives, soy, sesame seed, nuts, dairy, fatty fish, canola, and coconut. On the contrary, baked foods, pizza dough, chips, vegetable shortening, fried foods, margarine, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil are sources of bad fat, particularly trans-fat. Although both bad fats, Trans fats are worse than saturated fats and are not recommended for a healthy diet. However, red meat, chicken skin, ice cream, cheese, cream, butter are sources of saturated fats which are only recommended in small quantities, even though they are considered  bad fats and increase bad cholesterol.

As advised by the World health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Health Services, it is important to consume more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated (good) fats than saturated and trans (bad) fats. Bad fats, particularly Trans fats have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and increase levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). In contrast, Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) reduce the risk of heart attacks by decreasing the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) cholesterol and increasing the good cholesterol level (HDL).

Food is anything consumed by living organisms in order to stay alive. Foods offer nutrients, energy and growth, they can be of plant, animal, or fungal origin. All living organisms, including plants and animals, need food to survive. While plants produce and store their own food, animals depend on this stored food. Also, higher animals depend on lower animals for food. Components of food include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. These components determine the appearance, texture, taste and benefits of the food. To effectively provide the desired benefits, food  is ingested, digested and then absorbed by the cells of an organism.

In general, foods consumed by humans are grouped in various ways depending on several factors. These factors may include the building blocks of the food, processing methods or relative benefits of the food. Fundamentally, the four basic food groups used by many systems describe their origin and relative nutritional function: Fruits and Vegetables, Cereals and Bread, Dairy, and Meat. The World Health Organization uses a broader, more specific system with nineteen food types:

  • cereals, beverages, milk
  • roots, pulses, nuts
  • fish and shellfish
  • meat, insects
  • vegetables, fruits
  • fats and oils
  • sweets and sugars
  • spices and condiments
  • food additives

Based on the nutritional components, there are six main classes of food as mentioned earlier which are: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are macronutrients because they provide calories and are energy giving while vitamins, minerals, and water are micronutrients because they do not give energy. All nutrients including macro and micro nutrients are important for health,  and beneficial to the body. 

Carbohydrate is a major macro nutrient that provides energy. These carbohydrates consists of sugars or starches that are broken down by the body and stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen. Carbohydrates are stored to ensure the body has enough energy for activities, especially during fasting.When needed, the stored carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which is used by the body cells for energy. Common sources of carbohydrates are fruits, grains, rice, beans, and numerous vegetables. Some carbohydrate-rich vegetables are potatoes, yams, and corn.

Proteins are the building blocks with which the body builds cells and other tissues. When ingested,  proteins are broken down into amino acids, which are basic components of growth, development, repair, and maintenance of body tissues. Proteins provide structure to muscle and bones and helps to repair damaged tissues. The skin contains a protein called keratin which helps to repair and heal damaged skin layers.  Major sources of protein include beef, pork, chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and dairy products. Proteins come from both plant and animal sources, however ,research shows that  animal proteins are better absorbed by the body  when compared to plant proteins.

It was a beautiful Sunday noon to have some fried rice and a glass of apple-grape juice. So I thought, until the juice glass broke in my hands leaving a deep ugly tear on my left pinky finger! What an inconvenience, I just wanted to eat and my day was already planned.

Too bad… an emergency that would reroute my entire day had just begun.

Thank God my sister was home. I screamed and sent my little one running up the stairs to get her aunt. I stood still, isolated by glass and a pool of blood as I watched my poor finger…  wondering how much damage was done and if she’d ever make it alive. My sister came running, screaming at the gory sight and ready to dial 911. She immediately  grabbed a bandage from her first aid kit and gave me to wrap the wound and stop the bleeding. While she dialled 911, I ran my finger over the kitchen tap and wrapped the bandage around the wound.

“Hello, how can I help you?” asked the emergency respondent. “I have a deep cut and I need help!” I blurted. After a few more questions bordering on  violence, our call was redirected to EMT and we were  asked for our address so an ambulance would be dispatched.

I’m not sure what discouraged me. It could be  the sudden realization of the cost of an ambulance, or the fact that being quite conscious, I could definitely afford to get to the ER myself, at least, leaving the limited EMT for life threatening emergencies. At once, I declined the offer, and my sister booked an uber instead, headed to the nearest emergency room. I grabbed my health-card, IDs and wallet while my sister prepared to clean the glass-juice-blood mess and take care of my little one. Off I went (around 1pm), and in about 26 minutes, I was in one of Canada’s Emergency Room.

It didn’t matter if you came by EMT or uber, you were greeted by a most likely nonchalant lady (in my case) and then asked a redundant question:” Are you here to see a Doctor?” “Well, I don’t know. I’m here to see whoever the hell will suture my wound” I thought. I certainly didn’t think I needed a doctor but I guess that is the only profession that can suture a wound in Canada. A pinky finger wound. And clearly, it didn’t matter if you had to wait 5 hours for one. So, I said yes and was pointed to the line up of “emergency” patients waiting to be registered to see a doctor.

When you hear emergency room, what comes to mind? 

If you’ve ever watched a series on medical  movies such as Greys Anatomy or New Amsterdam, you’d  think an ER as a busy, fast paced environment where injured and sick people who need urgent care are treated and given immediate attention. Have you ever been to a real life ER? Quite the opposite… more like a dull room filled with long line ups,  check-in desk, long wait times and even longer wait times!

Maybe a deep cut on the finger that gushed blood wasn’t “emergency” enough. Maybe reporting I felt numb when asked to rate my pain level on a scale of 1 to 10 was the problem. Maybe it didn’t matter the kind of ailment one had, the same fate awaited us all. I was not alone.  After hours of waiting, I was moved to yet another wait room and then finally, to the suture room at 6pm  where the good  doctor showed up after a while. At this time, the wound which was just fresh and numb when I arrived had become painful and swollen. I could never understand why the problem of long wait times have lingered in the Canadian health care system and to be fair, many  publicly funded healthcare systems. Hundreds of research and millions of dollars later, it doesn’t seem like there’s been much of a headway- at least, in this case.

A potential solution to this persistent problem of long wait times may be increasing the training and clinical privileges of non-doctor health professionals to reduce the burden on Doctors. Research documents a similar method termed task-shifting which was adopted during the covid-19 pandemic to maximize human resources in healthcare.

Sleep is a state of rest in which the eyes are closed, muscles relaxed and mind is unconscious. Sleep disorders are conditions that interfere with or change normal sleep patterns. Disorders affect the timing, quality, and quantity of sleep in such ways that cause distress during the day as well as impair one’s ability to perform to their maximum capacity. These disorders limit the amount of sleep one gets and therefore affect the overall health and quality of life. When the body is deprived of sufficient amount of sleep, the risk of other health problems increase. Some markers or factors associated with sleep disorders include excessive body movement or speech while sleeping, sleeping at odd times or in odd places,  difficulty sleeping, constant sleepiness during the day, abnormal breathing while asleep, and irregular sleep cycle.

Fundamentally, sleep is critical to physical and psychological health in humans. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), adults need about eight hours of sleep nightly. Since the body works on a 24-hour cycle (circadian rhythm), it helps us know when to sleep. An average person sleeps for one third of the day which adds up to one third of a lifetime. Clearly, sleep is an important part of living and is required to continue living. In general, the body sleeps in two different ways which are expressed in different cycles:

  • Rapid Eye Movement (REM): As the name suggests, the eyes move around rapidly in a range of directions in this stage of sleep, but no visual signals or notifications are sent to the brain. This phase of sleep usually begins 90 mins after one falls asleep and is also where dreams happen. The first cycle of REM typically lasts 10 minutes, and becomes longer in subsequent cycles, with the final one lasting up to an hour. REM is a very important sleep phase because it stimulates protein production as well as the areas of the brain that enhance learning. Unlike adults, infants spend up to half of their sleep period in the REM stage.
  • Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM): This stage of sleep happens in three phases, and each of these lasts for about 10 minutes. These three stages of NREM happen before the REM. In the first stage which lasts 10 minutes or less, the eyes are closed, but it’s easy to wake up. In the second stage of NREM, sleep is light as the body prepares for deep sleep by reducing both the heart rate and body temperature. In the third and final stage of NREM, the body is in deep sleep and will be difficult to wake. Disruption of sleep at this age would result in disorientation for a few minutes and may require some time to regain consciousness. Tissue growth, bone and muscle building, immune strengthening and repair all occur during the deep stage of NREM sleep.

Most people do not get the required amount of sleep, reporting their sleep quality as poor. About 30% adults sleep less than six hours each night and research shows that over 50 million Americans experience sleep disorders. Sleep helps the brain function properly, so, insufficient sleep or poor-quality sleep causes fatigue, moodiness, poor decision making, low energy, depression, anxiety, irritability, heart diseases, diabetes, and lack of focus. These disorders may also be warning signs for medical or neurological problems, such as congestive heart failure, osteoarthritis, and Parkinson’s disease. Sleep disorders treatable and preventable following accurate and timely diagnosis. They are  classified either by their causes or symptoms, and include:

  • Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.
  • Sleep apnea: Abnormal patterns in breathing while sleeping
  • Narcolepsy: Sudden or excessive sleepiness during the day