Growing up, I came face to face with the severity of non-communicable diseases in Nigeria; from losing several loved ones and acquaintances to them, to seeing women and their children pushed into dire poverty after their husbands died from them, to seeing my classmate drop out of school because her father had died of cardiovascular disease.
Non-communicable diseases are diseases like stroke, heart attack, diabetes, cancer which are becoming so prevalent in developing countries. Unlike infectious diseases they cannot be passed through fluids or from one person to another. They are silent killers because you may feel perfectly fine but be walking around with one and that is why educating yourself on how to prevent and manage them properly is the best thing you can do for yourself.
I am sure it won't take any reader of this article with strong ties to Africa long to understand how big the problem is in Africa because every community group I have talked to in the course of our community health promotion outreach in Nigeria has told me how they have lost many members due to these diseases. Most of the community members especially in lower socioeconomic groups also had hypertension when we checked. I can only wish we at Engage Africa Foundation can grow bigger even faster so we can serve even more people.
At the end of the day however, how much we can do will depend on how much we will love ourselves enough to take care of our health.
Here are a few tips to get you thinking about whether you can do more to own your health so as to prevent non-communicable diseases from destroying your future.
Do you know the non-communicable diseases prevalent in your family history and are you monitoring their tale signs such as blood pressure, blood sugar, etc?
Do you drink alcohol responsibly instead of abusing it?
Have you cut off smoking and are you doing your best to protect yourself from second-hand smoke?
Do you engage in regular physical activity?
Do you make sure to eat a balanced home cooked diet and minimize your consumption of processed 'fast foods 'as much as possible?
Do you know your stress signs and try to manage stress properly?
Do you know your body mass index and strive to maintain a healthy body weight?
Don't wait to be sick and have to spend your hard earned money on cures before taking care of your health.
Own your health; it is your own.