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.

Blood Type Diet: Does It Work?

Is there a diet for a particular blood group? Do blood types; A, B, or O, chemically interact with particular nutrients in food? And do specific foods for particular blood types get easily digested, aid in weight loss, and help prevent diseases? These are the inquiries made over the years concerning this diet.

A blood type diet is a plan that assumes specific dietary recommendations based on one’s blood group and limits consumers to eating foods that are harmonious with their blood type. These diets have been in existence for more than two decades now. This idea was created by naturopath physician, Dr Peter J.D A’demo in the year 1996. In his book ‘’eat right for your type’’ he claims that there are diets and exercise regimens based on blood group systems. These diets are endorsed as programs to ensure adequate digestion, facilitate weight loss, and improve health.

Blood type diet Plate

Dr Peter claims that each blood type represents genetic traits of our ancestors, including which diet they evolved to flourish. He outlines that each blood group should eat as below; 

Type A: ”Agrarian or cultivator diet”. Eat a meat-free diet rich in plants closely resembling a vegetarian diet.

Type B: Nomad diet. Eat plants, dairy and most meats except chicken and pork. Avoid wheat, corn, lentils, tomatoes, and a few other foods.

Type AB: Enigma diet. Made of types A and B. Includes; seafood, tofu, dairy, beans, and grains. Avoid kidney beans, corn, beef, and chicken.

Type O: Hunter Diet. A high-protein diet encompassing meat, fish, poultry, certain fruits, and vegetable. Limited in grains, legumes, and dairy.

Dr Peter also claims that Yoga and Ti Chi are good exercises for Type A and aerobics like jogging and biking are good for type Os. 

The scientific evidence behind Blood type diets is negligible.

Research shows the increased vulnerability of certain blood types to particular diseases e.g the ABO association with Pancreatic Ca, venous thromboembolism and myocardial infarction. However, there is also no evidence that adherence to blood type diets will provide health benefitsAdvertised health benefits are therefore theoretical and not supported by scientific evidence.

Despite blood type diets prompting some level of efficiency by omitting the majority of unhealthy processed foods from people’s diet, they do not address particular health conditions and following a particular pattern may also risk the consumer to nutrient deficiencies. 

Argwings Chagwira Muliro–The writer is a nutrition and wellness professional who is focused on conducting detailed nutrition consultations and creating personalized meal plans to meet the needs of his clients | am.chagwira@gmail.com

PROTECTING BREASTFEEDING; A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY

World Breastfeeding Week 2021

World breastfeeding week has been monumentalized every 1st week of August since 1990.  This year’s theme was; Protect breastfeeding; a shared responsibility. This advocacy is an initiative by WHO and UNICEF to create a consensus that supports, promotes, and protects breastfeeding because it is the best nutrition tool for the growing baby. The World Alliance Breastfeeding Action (WABA) stated that this year’s objective was geared towards informing people about the importance of protecting breastfeeding, anchoring breastfeeding support, engaging with individuals and organizations for greater impact, and galvanizing action on protecting breastfeeding to improve public health.

Benefits.

Breastfeeding is beneficial for both the infant and the mother. Breast milk protects newborns from infections, improves immunity, facilitates optimal growth and development, and cushions babies against chronic diseases like diabetes later in life. On the other hand, breastfeeding mothers are less likely to develop ovarian and breast cancer, easily lose their postpartum weight, and regain their normal shape. After birth, it is recommended to exclusively breastfeed a baby during the first six months and then continue with complementary feeding, until 24 months or longer, if it suits both mother and baby.

Support.

Partners can help mothers with the domestic workload as well as with the caring of the baby. Doing hands-on with activities such as baby bathing, changing diapers, burping, shopping, and meal preparations, and helping out on house chores is a great form of support. At the workplace, it’s important to create an enabling environment such as implementing the maternity and paternity leave policy, providing lactating and/or milk expression rooms, and being breastfeeding cheerleaders etcetera. International Labour Organization (ILO) has passed three maternity conventions including paid maternity leave (which recommends 18 weeks) which undoubtedly allows mothers to exclusively breastfeed. Fewer countries have ratified it so far and it remains a challenge for women working in the informal sector because of the high risk of losing their jobs.

Protection.

To protect breastfeeding, the regulatory measures regarding maternal leave policies, workplace support, ban of formula milk marketing, and implementation of baby Friendly hospital initiatives (BFHIs) must be fully adopted and implemented. The implementation of leave policies by Sweden, the ban of formula milk marketing by Bangladesh, and the implementation of BFHIs by some countries are a few milestones to realizing this agenda. In Kenya, the milk breast milk bank in Pumwani hospital is a way to protecting and enabling breastfeeding to some degree. 

Argwings Chagwira Muliro

The writer is a nutrition and wellness professional who is focused on conducting detailed nutrition consultations and creating personalized meal plans to meet the needs of his clients | am.chagwira@gmail.com

GOOD FOOD CHOICES ARE GOOD INVESTMENT

Take some time and reflect on your latest food choices. That plate of food that you last ordered in the restaurant or the stock of food resting on the shelves of your home kitchen. Would you love to change mind about what you are eating? I think you should free yourself from malnutrition by making good food choices.

Food choices are good investment. They yield positive returns in the form of good health and progressive economic outcomes. On the flip side, poor food choices may contribute to incidences such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, growth retardation in early life and chronic neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Diabetes, for example, with a burden of 347 million people worldwide having it has been linked to unhealthy diets that are high in Carbohydrates, fats and sugars; and low in vegetables and physical activity. The global economic burden of treating diabetes has been increasing exponentially from US$1.3 trillion in 2015 and it’s projected to rise to an estimated US$2.1 to US$2.5 trillion by 2030. Poor nutrition causes morbidity and mortality which attracts a financial burden. Bethany Frankel notes that your diet is a bank account and good food choices are good investments.

The increase in number of eateries selling fast foods and processed foods, known to be high in sugar and saturated fats which have a negative effect to the body has contributed to unhealthy choices. Poor maternal nutrition, which plays a key role in determining infant outcomes, has also scaled up malnutrition. While malnutrition is an unprecedented pandemic in Africa, few people seek nutrition intervention and there’s limited interest from the population to learn about it. We are duty bound to understand what we eat and what it does to our bodies. Taking a personal initiative to read about food, consult with a nutritionist and making radical changes to our recipes and menu should be our starting point. The same way we plan with our time and money, let us also plan our diet. I recommend the Mediterranean diet for starters in this journey of investing through good food choices.

Webinar Review: Understanding Digital Health

stethoscope, doctor, medical

Presented by: Professor Stan Kachnowski – Columbia Business School

Technology is transforming health sector the world over in a fast pace. Health sector players are finding faster and cheaper ways of transferring information so as to effectively use it to improve the sector.

This has been a creative destruction of health systems. E-health or digital health is all things that surrounds human body and can be turned into zeros and ones. This information would not only help physicians but also the public health systems, science companies, health foundations and international health systems. It improves not only the health sectors but also the economic sectors of how digital tools can increase access to various medicines and diagnostics but also reduce cost as a nation.

There are different studies done on digital health, mostly the hypothesis expected when they put together a device or app is not mostly accurate. Outcomes are much different than what is predicted. Therefore digital health is not predictive. Opportunities that comes with Digital health may be in short-term and long-term. That is in short-term being able to do what you do today but do it for less money, work smarter not harder and have more productivity by using the same labor units. This could impact your quality rating in the long-term.

The e-health significantly depends on the population you are serving because every population uses digital differently, patient data is the core of digital health and privacy of this information is critical. Different regulations have been placed to protect such data and more awareness created on embracing technology in health systems.

By Effie Odhiambo | IGBR Columnist