World Health Day today: Universal Health through Primary Health Care
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World Health Day today: Universal Health through Primary Health Care

April 7, 2019

By Dr. B.R. Pai

World Health Organisation (WHO) looks to change the health and wellness world scenario and raise public awareness and consciousness with its World Health Day on Apr. 7 every year. This year, the theme Universal Health Coverage was retained with special emphasis on Primary Health Care; the reason being that while Universal Health Coverage is WHO’s number one goal, millions still do not have awareness or access to basic Primary Health Care.

Primary Health Care is an approach to health and well-being centred on the needs and circumstances of individuals, families and communities.  It addresses integrated physical, mental and social health and well-being. It is about providing whole-person care for health needs throughout life, not just treating a set of specific diseases. Primary Health Care ensures people receive comprehensive care, ranging from promotion and prevention to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care as close as feasible to people’s every day environment.

WHO has developed a definition of Primary Health Care based on three components:

Ensuring people’s health problems are addressed through comprehensive promotive, protective, preventive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative care.

Addressing factors of health (including social, economic, environmental, as well as people’s characteristics and behaviours).

Empowering individuals, families and communities to optimise, promote and protect health, as co-developers of health and social services through their participation and as self-carers and care-givers to others.

The 5P Primary Health Formula

To make health for all a reality, we suggest the 5P Primary Health Formula, which says you need to take Personalised, Participative, Predictive, Preventive and Promotive steps.  Let’s look into these:

1. Personalisation

Personal Health is all about You! It refers to individualised, precise, relevant, specific, person-centric health. It encompasses all aspects of personal, medical, environmental and lifestyle interactions, while considering the mind-body-spirit interaction.

In its simplest biological context, personal health reflects your unique self. You are different to your mum, dad, siblings and friends, and therefore need different nutrition, activities, interactions and engagement to truly thrive.

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As per Ayurveda, there are three doshas — vata, pitta and kapha. You have a unique combination of these three doshas that stays constant throughout your life and serves as a sort of blueprint for your health. You are unique; learning your unique dosha combination and understanding your constitution can reveal your natural inherent strengths, and illumine your greatest challenges and hence your healthy choices — routine, diet, exercises or medicine.

2. Participation

We need to take responsibility for our own health by participating in its maintenance. Many people think their health is in their doctor’s hands. The fact is: You are responsible for your own health.

3. Prediction

First of all, we should learn to listen to our own body. Our body talks. Listen to the headaches, colds and fevers, sores and inflammations, stomach upsets and loose motions! Many a time, we fail to listen or understand why they occur. Study your family history and understand the diseases you are prone to. Please go for regular periodical check-ups/screenings as per your doctor’s advice.

4. Prevention

Just as health encompasses a variety of physical and mental states, so do disease and disability; these are affected by environmental factors, genetic predisposition, disease agents and lifestyle choices. Preventive healthcare is especially important to minimise the prevalence of chronic diseases. Discuss tips for a healthy and balanced lifestyle, stay up to date with immunisations and boosters, and maintain a good relationship with your body. Preventive factors have to be undertaken. If one still gets sick, treatment has to be resorted.

5. Promotion

Every moment we are moving either towards illness or wellness.  We need to make the right choice. We need to take personal responsibility to our health. Health is not just physical; it is holistic — with physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual dimensions.  Some simple, free, natural ways can promote a healthy lifestyle — good food and sleep, yoga, meditation, mudras, music, physical and breathing exercises, healing therapies. Choose the suitable ones and enhance your health.

We have implemented the tried-and-trusted 5P Primary Health Formula in chosen circles with good results.

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Some hard-hitting healthcare facts

  • At least half of the people in the world do not receive the basic health services they need.
  • About 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty each year because of poor health.

WHO has advised the public to Inspire, Motivate, Guide, Communicate, Share and bring awareness by organising awareness-related activities. Health Education to one and all needs to be a part of this awareness. We have spent the better part of last year working on Health Education for children. We are bringing out a book “Health Education – A Guide to Promote Wellness in Children” to be distributed free to schools and kids.

For you and me, health is all about small changes to our lifestyle.  As we make these small changes, over a period of time, our lives are transformed. If I am healthy, I can make people around me healthy.  Our civic society — Municipalities, Corporations and Governments — needs to consider health as a sound investment in their human capital, rather than as a cost. Access to essential care and financial protection enhances health and life expectancy and protects from epidemics, reduces poverty and hunger, creates jobs, drives economic growth and enhances gender equality. Primary Health Care is the most efficient and cost-effective way to achieve Universal Health Coverage around the world.

Can we all dream big and manifest the lives of our dreams for one and all?

Dr. B.R. Pai

Happy World Health Day !

[The writer B.R. Pai is a well-known industrialist, a wellness promoter and author of “Total Wellness Management.” His wellness facility and healing centre, “Himalayan Salt Crystal Cave” is a first-of-its-kind in India.]

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