Health-Care Seeking Behaviour

Health seeking behaviour (HSB) is a sequence of remedial actions that individuals undertake to rectify perceived ill-health. It refers to action(s) by individuals who perceive themselves to have a health problem or to be ill for finding an appropriate remedy.  Health behaviours (HBs) are direct factors helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and do not occur in isolation. Social, cultural, and economic factors influence them. Individual choices and/or external constraints shape HBs in most cases.

Positive HSB promotes health, prevent diseases, and ensures good health outcome while the opposite increases, morbidity, and mortality.

An individual does not have to be ill, to seek healthcare. Everyone is at risk of contracting a disease condition. Take for example the case of COVID 19. The entire population has an exposure, in many ways, to this disease acquisition. However, the bigger population (including those who have experienced symptoms), may not have taken the initiative to be tested.

Medical Check-ups and preventive care are essential. Over the years, there has been an exponential rise in the number of non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) such as Cancers, diabetes, hypertension, obesity etcetera. Such require early screening to arrive at an early diagnosis, which helps to prevent life-threatening ailments. Some of the NCD’s such as hypertension have a genetic inclination and addressing preventive measures early enough is immensely important. Hypertension attributes to about 7% of deaths globally. By 2025, the number of adults with hypertension is likely to increase by about 60% to 1.56 billion worldwide and most of the cases will occur in low and middle-income countries (LMIC). Unfortunately, most cases of hypertension are asymptomatic. As a result, hypertensive patients often seek healthcare late or when they have complicated Strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, and kidney failure. WHO projects that, over the next ten years, Africa will experience the largest increase in death rates from CVDs like hypertension. Consequently, the negative economic impact of CVDs will be more on the African continent, and the cost of handling chronic illness will render many household’s poor.

Early Nutrition and medical screening have been shown to help in the early detection of various deficiencies and physiological changes that would prompt a life-threatening illness. If we perceive that we are susceptible to acquiring a disease, then we would invest our time and resources in preventive healthcare-seeking behaviour like frequent medical Screening, whether we are unwell. It is paramount to invest in health insurance covers, take our healthy babies to well-baby clinics, attend regular medical checks, and ensure we get our shots on time.

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