By Williams Owoeye
Time always has a way of leaving us behind; it keeps flying in its jet while we crawl behind it trying to catch up. Seconds roll into minutes, minutes into days, days into weeks, weeks into months and the cascade keeps going on till we are drowned in this quicksand of time-chasing. This is due to the fact that there is just a lot to keep tabs on. Our brains betray us when we get busy with other things that need our attention and stop paying attention to others; so, we miss that appointment, that birthday, that event because they are happening too soon, even though we know they are dates that have faces behind them: humans we know could get hurt through our negligence. Yet our brains care less.
The dates get more elusive to us when it is registered in our minds with no face attached to it. It becomes a subject of reduced obligatory value. Health awareness days fall into this category, especially those ones that don’t guarantee us a work-free day. It’s ironical to know that even though special days have been selected to create awareness about health issues that are of global concern, these dates are not getting the proper awareness they deserve. It is more like having a beautiful signpost that is fully covered by several forms of creeping vines and weed – it has a presence registered but it is not serving the purpose for which it is built.
Perhaps, at this stage, it becomes bearing on us to have an honest reflection on how many health awareness days we had planned to observe but we couldn’t and how many were we only reminded by the early update one of our friends or acquaintances posted on social media. If we will be realistic, health awareness days are what we should all observe because they are great avenues for us to bring up issues, questions and course of progress in the global fight against diseases and conditions that plague a large percentage of the world’s population.
Admittedly, sometimes it is hard to observe and participate in the activities lined up for all these awareness days because we don’t seem to find a way to connect with them, mainly because we are yet to see the effects of the global mayhem they are causing. We have not had a personal experience of such happening to us or a loved one. The fact however is that, the threats are real; the data and statistics are of out there if only we would care enough to check them and empathize with those affected and the next victim rather than ignore on the basis of “it’s none of my business”. This attitude will only amplify the spread of these conditions, owing to ignorance and nonchalance and the first step at solving a problem is being aware of that problem. Therefore, health awareness days should be my business and yours because incredible are the feats our numbers can achieve if we unite for a single cause, such as pooling together or raising funds, triggering a global conversation and educating ourselves on this conditions to ameliorate their effects.
So get your pen or your gadget – whatever really works for you really – let that noble move start by marking your calendar and setting a reminder a day before the event as I share with you the prominent health awareness day left to observe this year. Trust me, it is not too late to make a change.
Lung Cancer Awareness Month (1st – 30th November):
Just like October is the special month dedicated to breast cancer, Lung cancer also has a whole month dedicated to its awareness, and trusts me, it is worth it. Lung cancer is the boss of all cancers, affecting about 2.09 million in 2018. When you add the total number of lives prostate cancer plus breast cancer plus colon cancer plus ovarian cancer takes every year, lung cancer alone outperforms them combined. This is so because unlike the case of breast cancer that can be detected personally by the affected individual, most people with lung cancer don’t show symptoms at the early stage and there is no way to feel for the lungs to check how it is faring. So, most lung cancers are only detected when they have developed into advanced stages. Another factor that has made lung cancer infamous is the fact that it is connected to an addictive habit – smoking. It doesn’t stop there. Secondary smokers (people that do not start the smoke but share in it by being around smokers) are also at risk. Can you now see why this should be our business?
World Antibiotics Awareness Week (18th – 24th November):
Antibiotics like Penicillin, amoxycillin and doxycycline are the weapons that make up the bulk of our arsenal in the war against infections. Without them, we will be vulnerable as we go about our daily lives getting exposed to various microbes that we cannot see with our naked eyes. It is unimaginable what our lives would be without antibiotics to fight that painful embarrassing boil or those annoying inflammations we get on our fingers (whitlow; the one we call ‘wicklow’). However, recently there have been calls for a regulated use of antibiotics. They are lifesavers quite alright, but we should not consume them without regard because of the emergence of antibiotic resistance – a situation where antibiotics no longer work against these infections. This week is therefore selected to raise awareness about the proper use of antibiotics and antibiotics resistance.
World Diabetes Day (14th November):
“Every 30 seconds, a lower limb is lost to diabetes somewhere in the world”. Now take some moment and think about that and wonder how many lowers limbs are lost every hour or at the end of 24 hours. The number of people with diabetes is expected to rise to 522 million by 2030. To curb this, this day was chosen to raise awareness about the disease which is also in commemoration of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, contributed to the discovery of insulin in 1922.
World Prematurity Day (17th November):
This day is all about babies who were born before their term. It is set aside to raise awareness about premature babies and educate pregnant women about keeping their blood glucose and blood pressure levels in control.
World COPD Day (20th November):
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is not one single disease but an umbrella used to describe chronic lung diseases that cause limitation in the airflow in the lungs. It caused 3.17 million deaths in 2015. This day is set aside to raise awareness about COPD and associated death
World Children’s Day (20th November): This day is to celebrate Child’s Right and to recognize the status of children in our society as a group that needs protection, education and proper welfare. It is an equivalent of that which is celebrated in Nigeria on the 27th of May.
⦁ World AIDS Day (1st December): The essence of this day is to show support for people living with HIV and alleviate the stigma attached to the disease, to remember those that have died of the disease and to learn about current facts and realities about the disease. 37 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS.
International Day for People with Disabilities (3rd December): The aim of this day is to support the disabled in their society through sensitive policies that can integrate and provide them with opportunity and education. 15% of the world’s populations have some form of disability. This is the day to help guarantee their rights, empower them to live independently, boost their self-confidence, to mention a few.
On a parting note, let us also be aware that indifference is dangerous.