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How to celebrate World Health Day in 2021

World Health Day on 7 April marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization in 1948.

By Glynis Horning

This year, the theme for World Health Day is ‘Building a fairer and healthier world’.  

Here are 5 ways you can help achieve that:

1. Show appreciation for healthcare workers

For the past year, healthcare workers have risked their lives to help the rest of us. In February, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize reported that 35 100 medical workers had contracted Covid-19 in the public sector alone by October last year, with more than 400 dying (newer figures are not yet available).

Give a shout-out to healthcare workers this week on social media, especially community WhatsApp groups. If you know healthcare workers personally, drop them a card they can treasure, expressing your gratitude. Make one, or order one through Benita Enoch, MD of Durban start-up Cardiology Cards, who in April will deliver a #HealthHero card for World Health Day with a short message from you to a Durban area hospital of your choice for R35, with proceeds going to Covid relief efforts. 

2. Get involved in a community initiative 

Join an existing one, or start one yourself – for instance, by planting a vegetable garden and fruit trees on verges in your area, or offering to show children on your street how to make small food gardens. There are heaps of helpful sites online – see the likes of Savvy Gardening and this one from the University of the Free State.

3. Boost your family's well-being 

Encourage your family to reach for water, not sweetened drinks, when thirsty or hungry (hunger pangs and thirst are often confused, says dietitian Candice Smith). Keep a jug of iced water in the fridge and give children fun flasks, adding sliced fruit or mint leaves for flavour. Start meals with a great salad or as the weather cools, a wholesome vegetable soup – a good way to get nutrients into them before they fill up on starch and protein.

Get the whole family into exercise by trying something new and fun together, whether it’s plogging (jogging while picking up litter) or ballroom dancing (inspired by Strictly Come Dancing), you’ll find free classes online through sites like Love to Know

4. Schedule your health check-ups

Head off potential problems before they develop and burden the pandemic-strained health system by booking these:

- Pharmacy check: Go yearly for a wellness consultation at your Clicks pharmacy (blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, HIV, PSA, etc.).
- GP, gynae: Schedule a visit once a year to discuss any problems or physical changes.
- Mammogram: After a baseline at 35-40, go for an annual mammogram, especially if you’re at higher risk (with close family members affected).
- Pap smear: Go every three years from age 25. State health provides three free pap smears from age 30 at 10-year intervals.
- Bone mineral density scan: Have a baseline scan when you start menopause, then go every two or three years.
- Urologist: Men should have a PSA test or digital rectal exam every year from age 50 (earlier, if at higher risk).
- Dermatologist: Have a baseline check and mole mapping, then go every two or three years if dark-skinned, yearly if you’re light-skinned, or have a family history of skin cancer, or had a blistering sunburn as a child.
- Optometrist: Go yearly, especially if you have diabetes or high blood pressure.

5. Get your shots!

When your turn comes in the phased Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, be sure to go for your shot to help stem the tide. In the meantime, get your annual flu shot against the most prevalent flu strains this winter – to not only take the pressure off stretched health workers, but help prevent you confusing flu with what could be signs of Covid (temperature, cough, sore throat, body aches).

Flu shots are particularly important if you’re over 65, or have a heart, kidney or lung condition, asthma or HIV/Aids, says Clicks pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman.

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com