Taking Charge of Our Health through Preventive Healthcare

By Ellen G. Cooper

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 25, 2014

                  

Ellen G. Cooper

While busying ourselves to celebrate Liberia’s independence this year on July 26 at home and abroad, I thought that a good way to truly celebrate another milestone would be to take charge of our health by taking advantage of preventive health care services. Too often, many of us who are privileged to live in societies that afford us health benefits neglect to take advantage of preventive health and seek health care only when we have symptoms that are unbearable or a condition that worsens with time.  At that point, treatment is usually extensive and costly or sadly, the condition becomes chronic, and altering our quality of life if by chance we survive.  For those living in Liberia whose  main issue is not neglect but compounded by limited  health services and  poor health education, poverty, scarcity of medicine, medical   supplies, health care personnel, as well as  facilities, there  is still much more we can do in terms of basic preventive healthcare to save lives.         

                                         What is preventive health?   
Preventive health is proactive measures that are focused on averting illness or disease progression as opposed to those focused on curative only. Its purpose is to keep us healthy, prevent the burden of chronic disease and premature death. Preventive health operates on three levels which are primary, secondary, and tertiary.

On the primary level, preventive health consists of general measures that prevent illness from occurring in the first place. This is achieved by means of good nutrition-balanced diet, good hygiene, and infectious disease precautions.  For example, drinking clean water,   hand washing, and keeping your environment free from standing water reduces the risk of common diarrhea causing illness and malaria. A well-balanced and adequate diet decreases the risk of obesity and   malnutrition.  In addition, vaccination decreases the risk of diseases such as measles, hepatitis, tetanus, chicken pox, pneumonia, and others.       

Secondary prevention on the other hand, comprises of measures that intercept the potential for disease to become active or symptomatic through screening and management. Its aim is to detect disease early on and provide treatment or intervention to halt disease such as   hypertension, diabetes, and cancer progression. Secondary prevention also includes those strategies that contain, prevent, or limit the spread of infectious disease among at risk population or   those with infectious diseases such as HIV, syphilis, tuberculosis, and most recently, the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia.

Tertiary prevention focuses on rehabilitation to minimize the disability resulting from a disease or condition.  Its aim is to implement measures that help individuals return to functional capacity as best as possible. Such measures are usually employed in cases of stroke, amputation, blindness, pain, mental health conditions, and many others that limit one’s functional ability.  

                                      Benefits of Preventive Health
The benefits of preventive health are numerous; (1)  in terms of personal wellbeing, it  keeps us healthy, improves our quality of life,  and   prevents us from dying prematurely from preventable diseases or chronic illnesses; (2)  economically, preventive health  makes  sense  because it is less  costly  to prevent than  to cure; (3) preventive  health prevents  the incidence  of wide spread of diseases; (4) preventive health prolongs life.

Thankfully, according to the World Health Organization 2013 report,   life expectancy in Liberia is 60years, up from 45 years over the past ten years.    An encouraging improvement since the war, much credit due to primary preventive health services provided by foreign NGOs in collaboration with local NGOs and the government of Liberia.  For example, since 2003, Médecins du Monde has been providing maternal and newborn preventive health services  in Bong county with astonishing success. The project goal is to reduce childhood diseases and maternal mortality. Additionally, the project aims to prevent the transmission of HIV from Mother to Child, Malaria, the effects of malnutrition, improve midwifery training and provide services to manage complications during labor.  As recent as 2013, the Safe Motherhood Project operated by Medical Team International has also been providing similar preventive health services in Sinoe county, Liberia.

Despite the gain, Liberian life expectancy is fragile and at risk of decline. This is because according to  NGOs statistics, government health institutions, which many Liberians rely  on  continue to operate below  the pre-war capacity  or in poor working order; subsequently unable to manage medical emergencies, chronic illnesses, or epidemic such as the Ebola crisis,  once the foreign NGOs funding dries out. 

For example, on July 27, 1971,   John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital one of the finest in West Africa supported with a mixed funding of $6.8 million loan and $9.2 million in grants from USAID, and an additional $1 million contribution from the Liberian Government   opens   its doors.  The pre-war capacity was composed of 600 beds and four well-functioning subdivisions:  

  1. John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital.
  2. Maternity Hospital.
  3. Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts (a paramedical and nursing school).
  4. Catherine Mills Rehabilitation Hospital (a psychiatric care facility).

Unfortunately,  according to  WHO 2013  report on Liberia health recovery,   JFK    has not   been restore to its pre-war  capacity,  as is the case with  many other  major pre-war  health facilities in Liberia such as Martha Tubman Memorial Hospital in Zwedru, J.J Dossen in Harper Maryland, Phebe Hospital in Bong County, and others.   Although,   some new medical  facilities  have been   added  to the  Liberian health care  delivery system, such as  the Jackson F. Doe Medical  Center in Nimba  county  however,  much needs to be done   in order to  cope with the growing population  health needs otherwise, the gradual gain in the population life expectancy might be reversed. 

Some Preventive Health Strategies
Preventive health is a holistic and collaborative process involving several strategies, but not limited to the following:

  1. Physical exam:   cholesterol level screening for risk of heart disease, diabetes screening, colon cancer screening  for both male and female at age 50; prostatic exam for male at age 50; mammogram exam for female over 40, PAPS smear for cervical cancer screening.
  2. Healthy Diet and Exercise:  engaging in physical activities such as walking, limiting sugar intake and fatty foods decrease the risk of obesity; a   major risk factor for diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.  Contrary to the popular Liberian belief  that being “fat” is a sign of enjoyment and good health,  it is  actually a risk for  health complications.
  3. Avoid Risky Behavior:  avoid  risky behavior such as smoking to decrease  the risk of lung cancer, avoid excessive drinking to decreases the risk of illness such as liver cirrhosis,  and avoid  illicit drugs use to minimize poor judgment that can lead to  risky behavior and bad choices that might expose one to STDs and other illnesses.
  4. Practice safe sex:  Practice abstinence preferably, monogamous relationship, or use condom to prevent sexually transmitted disease especially, HIV/AIDS.  
  5. Drive safely:  fasten seat belt, avoid driving when sleepy or under the influence of alcohol or drugs to prevent traumatic injury or premature death.
  6. Use Salt in moderation to minimize the risk of hypertension and stroke. High intake of sodium is common in Liberia mainly because we use salt to preserve food or to make food tastier.  Studies by several medical professionals including Steven van de Vijver, Hilda Akinyi and Samuel Oti published in the Pan African Medical Journal of Medicine show that Africans, including Liberians are more prone to hypertension.
  7. Practice Good Hygiene and Sanitation: Hygienic practice such as hand washing and properly deposing garbage and human waste prevents the spread of diseases.  


For a county  such as Liberia   where  services  are   rarely  available to manage   health complications  such as   kidney failure  requiring  dialysis, liver failure  requiring  transplant, and various  types of cancer requiring  chemo therapy,  focusing on primary preventive  health to  stop  diseases in the first place is  vital.  

If we do these things, we are bound to live healthier; prevention is less costly than cure. Preventions saves lives, so taking control of your health this Independence Celebration where ever you are, may help you live to see many more. 

About the Author:  Ms. Ellen G. Cooper, RN, is a New York State licensed Registered Nurse with over 16 years’ experience.  Ms. Cooper holds a Bachelor degree in nursing and is currently pursuing a dual graduate degree as Clinical Nurse Specialist and Adult Nurse Practitioner at the college of Staten Island, New York.  She is an active member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.       


Sylvester Moses
Thanks, madam, we can use the doses of preventive measures you recommended; many of us would have been in better physical shape had we heeded similar advice from other medical practitioners, including warnings in easily accessible literature.
Sylvester Moses at 05:15PM, 2014/07/27.
Anonymous
I am Puchika Theany from Italy and am very grateful for what Dr Ariba did for me. I was having HIV for the past 4 months now and it has caused a lot of damage in my life. Am really shot of words to thank him cause it was all a surprise that he cured me. All I have to say is that God should continue to bless him and I will continue to be grateful to him. If you need his help, just email him on dr.aribaspelltemple@outlook.com or draribaspelltemple@gmail.com
Anonymous at 02:35PM, 2014/08/04.
Jack Allen
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dr.aribaspelltemple@outlook.com, or draribaspelltemple@gmail.com so he can help you out
Jack Allen at 12:31AM, 2014/08/12.
Carolina
HIV is a terrible disease, if not for my Husband and the help of the great Dr. Oraede my life would have been a mess! I was diagnosed with HIV in 2005, my husband encouraged me, and told me not to lose hope, I manage to give birth to a baby Boy who was free from the disease, and my Husband was always there for me! One day he came to me and told me that he have found a man who can cure me. Base on scientist, they said there is no cure for HIV; he told me that he has seen many testimonies about him on the internet. We decided to contact him, we filled his Herbal home form, and he asked us to buy some items which we did! Three days later he asked me to go for HIV test, faithfully I went to do the Test, Lo and Behold, I was cured, the virus was not found in my Body... My Dear Husband and my Father Dr. Oraede, God will surely bless the both of you, till the end of time, in Jesus name.. If you have any problem kindly contact he on Dr.oraedespellhome@hotmail.com dr.oraedespellhome@gmail.com or you can reach him via his mobile phone on +2349038604218.....
Carolina at 11:53PM, 2014/08/14.
Anonymous
My name is Karlijn Keijzer, i want to give almighty praise to Dr Ariba who helped me get cured of my HIV/AID diseases, please help me thank this great man whom God has sent from heaven to save people's life, this man also save the life of my friend who had HIV/AID just like I did, please thank this man for me, also if you have any type of problem or you need cure to any diseases you can also contact him to help you out, he is a wonderful man, his email is draribaspelltemple@gmail.com or dr.aribaspelltemple@outlook.com contact him now for him to help you too, you can also reach him on phone +2348140439497
Anonymous at 06:42PM, 2014/08/15.
Anonymous
My name is Karlijn Keijzer, i want to give almighty praise to Dr Ariba who helped me get cured of my HIV/AID diseases, please help me thank this great man whom God has sent from heaven to save people's life, this man also save the life of my friend who had HIV/AID just like I did, please thank this man for me, also if you have any type of problem or you need cure to any diseases you can also contact him to help you out, he is a wonderful man, his email is draribaspelltemple@gmail.com or dr.aribaspelltemple@outlook.com contact him now for him to help you too, you can also reach him on phone +2348140439497
Anonymous at 06:36PM, 2014/08/20.
Shaun Reginald
Hello I'm Reginald Shaun by name, I'm giving a testimony about Dr. Oraede the great Herbalist, he has the cure to all manner of diseases, he cured my HIV disease, though I went through different website I saw different testimonies about different spell casters and herbalist, I was like: "Many people have the HIV cure why are people still suffering from it?" I though of it, then I contact Dr. Oraede via email, I didn't believe him that much, I just wanted to give him a try, he replied my mail and Needed some Information about me, then I sent them to him, he asked me to pay 200USD for the preparation of the cure, though I didn't believe him, I just gave him a try, 200USD is not that much, I make the money reachable to him and he prepared it (CURE) and sent it to FEDex Online Courier Service for delivery, he gave my details to the Courier Office, they told me that 3-5 days I will receive the package and i took the medicine as prescribed by him and I went for check-up a week after finishing the medicine, I was tested HIV negative, if you are HIV positive do me a favor for you to contact him and I will try my possible best to make sure you get cured, when you contact him, make sure you tell him that I referenced you.. contact him via: dr.oraedespellhome@gmail.com or dr.oraedespellhome@hotmail.com +2349038604218, contact me on shaunreginal21@gmail.com http://shaunreginal21.wordpress.com/2014/08/20/hiv-cure/
Shaun Reginald at 12:10AM, 2014/08/21.
Anonymous
My name is Karlijn Keijzer, i want to give almighty praise to Dr Ariba who helped me get cured of my HIV/AID diseases, please help me thank this great man whom God has sent from heaven to save people's life, this man also save the life of my friend who had HIV/AID just like I did, please thank this man for me, also if you have any type of problem or you need cure to any diseases you can also contact him to help you out, he is a wonderful man, his email is draribaspelltemple@gmail.com or dr.aribaspelltemple@outlook.com contact him now for him to help you too, you can also reach him on phone +2348140439497
Anonymous at 03:05PM, 2014/08/21.
Felicia
This is another Testimony on how Dr Ariba cured My HIV Disease Do you need cure to your HIV disease? Do you want to be cure from your cancer disease? Or you want to be free from any type of disease you have kindly contact Dr. Ariba on dr.aribaspelltemple@outlook.com or draribaspelltemple@gmail.com, he just cured my HIV disease and I’m very grateful to him, he is the only herbalist that can cure you. Or you can contact me on feliciacurry121@gmail.com so that I can put you through on how he did it. Thank you all for reading, God bless"
Felicia at 03:47PM, 2014/09/10.

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