Many times our thinking about healthcare mainly centres around what is done in the hospitals and various health facilities around the country.

The policy makers in government are not left out. Most of their attention seem to focus on hospitals, hospitals and more hospitals.

Of course it’s no secret that our hospitals are grossly inadequate, mostly underfunded and understaffed. However the truth remains that we must look at healthcare from a more holistic approach.

In this 4-week series I intend to beam a spotlight on several aspects of healthcare that are mostly neglected yet so relevant to any inroads we intend to make into solving our health problems.

Starting with…

General Preventive Health
The Phrase “prevention is better than cure” cannot be more true elsewhere than how it applies to healthcare.

Taking steps to ensure that certain measures are taken to prevent diseases must always remain a priority in any form of health system design or management.

It’s safer, better and economically beneficial and this is why the current practice of leaving the job of public health education to individuals and non governmental organisations is ineffective at best.

A lot of work is being done but it’s important to note that greater involvement of government at the policy level is sure to serve as a rallying point to make such individual efforts a lot more effective.

There must be a deliberate government policy to ensure that at every level and down to the grassroots, the populace is adequately informed about ways to prevent diseases.

The increasing burden of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and even cancers leaves us with no choice but to do better with regards to general preventive health.

Public health education needs to carry the backing of deliberate government policy.

From teaching in schools to local communities and religious centres we must recognise that the best way to handle these diseases is by prevention.

Leaving our vaccination agenda to the fate of donor organisations just doesn’t cut it.

We must prioritise and ensure that first of all no child is left behind in vaccination against the common childhood killer diseases.

That is a first step towards protecting the health of the next generation.

Increasing awareness about the common infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Malaria, Tuberculosis etc remains basic for any preventive health intervention we plan.

This cannot be overemphasized as reducing the incidence of these diseases in the first place helps reduce healthcare spending.

It even ensures that those who still come down with these diseases are properly taken care of especially with the lean resources available.

I’ll have to admit that a robust public/community health education template can easily work alongside a functional primary health care system.

To be continued…

Olusanya Oluwatomi