e are aware of the popular maxim, “Health is wealth”. This is true, but how can we explore and harness the wealth in health to ensure a better quality of life.
Today, I will be exploring the wealth in health from three areas – physical hygiene, mental health and sexual health.
Physical Hygiene: we are educated on the importance of physical hygiene. How does physical hygiene influence wealth? In a study by Rhenigans et al, they discovered the mean cost of treating diarrhea in 3 African countries namely Gambia, Kenya and Mali to be $2.63; $6.24 and $4.11 respectively. Another study by Regina Ejemot-Nwadiaro, found that promoting hand-washing can reduce diarrhea by one-third. While the earlier costs may not be attributable to the Nigerian environment, yet it is possible the Nigerian figures are not far off.
In a population of over 200 million with over 90 million below the poverty line adopting simple physical hygiene measures like handwashing can significantly reduce needless hospitalizations, use of medications and unbudgeted health expenditures.
Years ago while in medical school, a common complaint about Nigerian students was ‘body odour’ and this minute detail often impaired the relationship students could have harnessed for networking,which involves relationship with people, real or imagined. Wealth comes through networking and a poor physical hygiene mars networking opportunities. Research has shown that natural body odours informs social judgments about health, emotional state, gender, sexual orientation and individual identity. Proper physical hygiene improves self-esteem and attracts good energy including wealth.
A second goldmine to harness our wealth is mental health. Our society pays lip service to mental health and this is evident in the ills currently plaguing our values as a people and nation. Mental health includes emotional, psychological and social well-being. From birth, we are constantly faced with challenges that we strive to overcome. Sometimes we do overcome them through defence mechanisms, other times we do not. However, every challenge takes a toll on our mental well-being. Our mental health can be likened to the motherboard of our mobile devices – laptops, phones,etc. Once a malfunction occurs, the device becomes unusable. Poor mental health diminishes an individual quality of life and productivity and by extension, wealth creation and maintenance. What are some of the mental health challenges we face today? Poor mental health from unemployment, breakups, working long hours, caring for an ill relative or friend.
A few years ago while lodging in a hotel in Barbados, a British man who also lodged in the same hotel was ecstatic at being on vacation after 9 years of caring for his mother who had just passed away. His expression illustrated the immense toll caring for his mother had affected his mental health. How can we improve our mental health?
- Talk more, Talk to the right person – a counselor, psychologist.
- Take breaks – prioritize your health, self-preservation remains the most underutilized investments for harnessing wealth in health.
Reflection and spending time to nourish the mind, spirit and body prepares you to tackle life’s challenges.
Finally, sexual health: Nigeria is one of the top sexual nations in the world. This is evident in our patronage of porn sites and sexual products. I highlight these to buttress the importance of a proper sexual lifestyle and health. Sexual health can be an uncomfortable topic yet it is the third leg that completes the tripod of this conversation on the wealth in health. Poor sexual health begins with negligence to the risk of sexually transmitted illnesses and lack of testing to prevent transmission of STIs. Taking precautions saves unplanned health costs, mental anguish and emotional distress.
Harnessing the wealth in health through proper physical health, mental health and sexual health ensures a better quality of life, long-term productivity and longetivity.
Edwin Okon Jnr is the Medical Director of Saint Edwin Clinics and Lecturer. He is a member of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh. He can be contacted via e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.