I am Global Health Ambassador.
It is most shocking that life expectancy in Nigeria according to 2011 report is 52 years, it is the 17th lowest in the world and i am really afraid because this is going to go even worse the way things are currently in Nigeria. I would rather think this report should have been of great concern to the Government of Nigeria mostly the Ministries of Health at both State and Federal levels; nothing has been significantly done to the best of my knowledge to improve on this statistics starting with health education and enlightenment on lifestyle improvement.
It would interest you to know that even our neighbouring countries like Ghana stands at 62 years while Niger Republic stands at 55 years life expectancy. We have countries like United States of America at 78 years, United Kingdom at 80 years while Switzerland and Hong Kong topping the list with 83 years life expectancy.
Seeing some countries healthier than others is based on 3 predominant factors namely:
Access to and quality of healthcare (health equity and health equality)
Difference in lifestyle
Difference in environment
When we consider the environmental factor, you will realise no individual exists in isolation but within a certain environment which greatly frame our lifestyles on both short and long term. Our roads were built without walkways, estates are built without play grounds and most recently schools are approved without consideration for sports and recreational infrastructures but the question is how did we get here? I still remember my primary school and secondary school days where you have more than enough sports infrastructures in schools, we found these very useful and you never can imagined how much those things contributed to the school child’s overall development most importantly mental health. We had interschool competitions, principals’ cup football tournament, inter house sports competitions and many other activities which added fun to learning and created activities that aided the school child exercise. It is so sad, how it has turned out these days. Do you know children are beginning to be hypertensive even at school age? This is a new development that has become so disturbing in global health perspective. How can this trend be corrected? What needs to be done? Can we roll back the years? It is indeed really sad.
A child is supposed to clock 60 minutes exercise time daily, it may not be at a stretch but all his activities for the day put together. The society and environment we have found ourselves has not helped in any positive way, children are most times been restricted to just the parents’ apartment and sometimes the compound which ultimately takes away from them the opportunity to clock requisite exercise expected of them daily. They eat without the opportunity to burn out the energy and this leads to heavy storage of unutilised calories in their systems which they must pay for later in their life time. Even adults are the worse victims in the excess calories storage; we need to know that every individual is the driver of his or her own health conditions.
We are living in an age where everything about and around us have become mechanised, we are a mechanised people living in a mechanised society in a mechanised age. No one walks anymore, there is huge vehicular movement on our roads, everyone wants to drive to even the nearest locations or shops, gone are those days where people walk to run errands or walk to visit friends.
There was a recent study done in U.S.A and U.K which looks at categories of people who run their errands using their personal cars, chartered taxis, public transportation, bike/walk as means of movement. What was most shocking in this discovery is the percentage number of people amongst the group assessed in the category of walk/bike. 32.3% of the adult group assessed in U.K. walk or use bikes to run errands or sort out issues but shockingly only 6.3 % of the adult group assessed in the U.S. walk or use bikes to run errands or sort out issues. This may be a very useful contributor to the difference in life expectancy in both U.K and U.S.A as already highlighted above.
Let’s learn to walk again and go back to our bicycles, these are cultural lifestyles that are fast eroding. Our fathers used these means and they yielded good results for them, why has it become so alienated in many countries of the world and mostly the continent of Africa? Walk for life is a healthy lifestyle code, let’s adopt it.
Have you heard of a concept called “Energy Balance”? It is simply talking about the amount of energy intake over the amount of energy expenditure. If you took in all that energy, you should be ready to also expend it proportionately so you can live healthily. Ensure you take in as much calories as you have the capacity to expend, if we are not able to get this right then we run into health trouble.
In most families’ pantry and shopping list today, how many of fresh foods as fresh vegetables, fresh fish, fibre rich foods, green foods do we really find? Everyone has gone into the collective chase of canned food high in salt and this is not helping anyone’s health. Because of work and career demand, we have all become so dependent on “MRE” (Meals Ready to Eat) they are basically found in cans. You need to know these foods have preservatives, high salt content which has high potential to induce hypertension. Let’s do more of fresh foods, fruits, fish instead of red meat, low cholesterol oil, less of sugar, less of canned and preserved food, less of fries and the likes, we will just be on a new trip for better health. Non communicable diseases are becoming a huge global concern, diseases like cancer, hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure, stoke and other cardiovascular diseases traceable to sudden deaths are very preventable when a healthy lifestyle is adopted.
I have realised, we cannot solely blame our inability to live a healthy life on other people or government policies, living a healthy life is a deliberate choice we must make as individuals and it takes a whole lot more than being disciplined to make it happen but most importantly knowing that you are responsible for what happens to you and that you can control things within your capacity as it has to do with your health.
A word, they say is enough for the wise, the ball is in your court. Living a healthy life is a human right, compromising this is not in your best interest. Do not add to the statistics, stay alive.
Thanks for taking out time to read this.