We were discussing the impact of infections on societies from time immemorial. We listed the: Aztec empire; empires in Africa; Han empire; and Roman empire and realized small pox here or various infestations there led to the fall of these empires that great armies had helped put up. I was moved to write this blog after the friend said: “Health affects security and defense. If one wants to measure the value of health, let them read about the effects of the bubonic plague on the progress of the World Wars or the effects of biological warfare terrorism/ scare on public peace and order.” It got me thinking. The moral I gathered from this tete-a-tete was that we do not need to wait for infections or diseases to ravage us. We do not have to wait for Ebola or Malaria or Cholera to cross the veil. So, there must be what I call “good habits.” It is these good habits that I want to write about in lay terms. The affordable and appropriate individual practices. Before I proceed to write about the good habits, I want to define four words: habit, health and the public
A habit or practice is one’s way of doing things as part of contributing to or getting something out of a society. It is one’s own attitude; it manifests as interest or desire; it is the fabric maintaining relationships; it is also the interaction and treatment one gives to others. A habit follows a certain pattern. The pattern is dictated by a feeling of life, energy, accomplishment, self esteem and drive. This is what I shall call health for the purpose of this blog. Health is in turn affected by agency, place, space and time. This is what I shall call public. One has to cultivate habits that enjoin the public to continue upholding health. We see such results at human-to human level manifested as productivity, being dependable and results oriented. But, what are those habits? Before these habits become an every day application, there are underlying skills such as: a readiness to work with communities; one has to have the intelligence to analyze needs; one has to be a problem-solver; one has to have the readiness to listen to others; one has to have the readiness to provide guidance that brings about change or addresses needs; one has to be able to communicate with others as well as self. The good habits benefit self and others. By others we may mean: family members, community members, house-mates, congregants, school-mates, crew-mates or any situation that brings humans or other organisms together. This interrelationship is underscored by complexities and resources (logistics and technologies). In order to have sustainable public health the way we manipulate the resources has to be in such a way that we are able to promote accessibility and use. This in turn promotes and is supposed to uphold health at individual and community level (public). Examples of the resources or agency include: the people; the environment; clean water supply systems, infrastructure and various objects we use to improve or maintain a quality long life for ourselves and earth.
There is a link between practices, individual, public, resources, vigilance (or lack thereof), continued awareness, continued reporting of what needs to be addressed and a motivation to uphold health. The good habits in form of a readiness to work with communities; intelligence to analyze needs; problem-solving skills; readiness to listen to others; readiness to provide guidance that brings about change or addresses needs; ability to communicate with others as well as self provides the critical readiness by all to engage in activities that promote Public Health. Public Health calls for community mobilization, community involvement and community accountability.