BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

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As a life threatening pandemic, Covid-19 remains one of the most talked about news in the world today with updates reported on a daily basis. In addition to all the noise about the vaccine, there’s more recently, a buzz about the newest strain of the virus that causes COVID-19. This strain is said to have  originated in the UK sometime in September, 2020, and has since spread to the U.S., Canada and some other countries. Researchers  are still gathering facts and insight on this new variant, in attempt to answer the following questions:

  • How different is it from the other strain
  • Is it more dangerous
  • Does it need further precautions
  • Does it infect children more easily than previous strain
  • Will the current vaccine be effective against it

The questions go on and on, however, emergence of  new strains of the Covid-19 virus was not at all a surprise to scientists. In fact, it is expected given the nature and biology of viruses; In the human body, viruses attach to cells, penetrate them, and make copies of their RNA, which helps them spread. In this process, errors randomly occur, causing changes in the viral RNA. These changes are called mutations, and will result in a new strain of virus. Currently, the seven types of corona viruses that infect humans are divided into four sub-groupings, called alpha, beta, gamma, and delta:

  • 229E (alpha)
  • NL63 (alpha)
  • OC43 (beta)
  • HKU1 (beta
  • MERS-CoV, a beta virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
  • SARS-CoV, a beta virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  • SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19

Since the inception of the pandemic, there have been multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19. These variants or strains are different from the strain first seen in China. New strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are detected on a weekly basis, however, there isn’t enough research to confirm that these new strains are more virulent or contagious. The newest strain (B117) was detected in southeastern England in September 2020 and by December, it became the most common cause of infection, accounting for about 60% of new  cases. New strains were also seen in Denmark, The Netherlands, and other European countries. Additionally,  another variant was detected in Africa, specifically Nigeria and South Africa (1.351). In Brazil, a variant called P.1 which contains a set of mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies, was identified. It is  worthy of note that most of the genetic changes in these viruses have no significance or functionality. However, the newest strain-, B117, appears to spread up to 70%  more easily than previous strains of COVID-19.

According to current research, there is no evidence that the newer strains infect children more easily neither is there reason to suggest that vaccines would not work against new strains. However, scientists and public health experts are intensifying research and studying these variants  to ensure that laboratory tests and vaccines remain effective. More so, CDC, in collaboration with other public health agencies, is closely monitoring the situation and working to detect emerging variants.

Digital revolution has tremendously affected many aspects of our lives especially health and medical care, in general. Medicine has long been influenced and complimented by technologies like X-rays, CT scans, MRI and other diagnostics to help in better care.  However, digital revolution is something more significant; It includes electronic health records, m-health, tele health, amongst others. It is the integration of technology into every bit of healthcare forming it’s very foundation. Digitisation has produced impressive results in other industries like automobile, aviation and as such have been advocated by health organisations and professionals as the future and hope of healthcare. This change in the course of healthcare which brings  it closer to patients and healthcare consumers is in fact the boldest move to patient centred care.

Since the early 2000’s, there has been a global trend in view of the prospects of digitisation, that is, making healthcare completely digital. Most significant would be the gradual digitisation of health records. The result is a new health record system known as the electronic health records (EHR). EHR is simply the digital form of paper records but collected and available in real time through multiple media outlets. The immediate advantage of the EHR centres around ease of accessibility and portability with increased transparency. All these allow for a more integrated, coordinated and personalised care. At the very least, it eliminates most of the errors of the traditional paper-based record system like medication errors due to poor legibility and suboptimal emergency care due to limited access to data.

Despite these  advantages, the reality of the current EHR has left both health professionals and patients frustrated,  negatively impacting care. This issue of usability  has been pointed out by healthcare workers as a major problem- It is only in healthcare that systems are designed without inputs from the very users (healthcare workers). In  aviation for example, airplanes are test run by pilots and their suggestions are used to improve the design. This lack of user-based design has led to increased time with computer mostly to repeat the same inputs. This results in fatigue, as well as poor interface and inflexibility. Many health workers have tried several solutions with little success like using a voice recognition program to prevent them fixating on their screens, using scribes  or  paper records and then entering them in the EHR later. Additionally,  there is high cost of installing EHR as well as non-transferability of records from one hospital to another.

 Technological advancement has also brought gradual modifications to the doctor-patient relationship; Gone are the days when the doctor’s note belonged to the doctor alone. Patients can now see their health records and the doctor’s note that was once private, due to changes in social structure and the presence of third parties such as :lawyers, insurance companies  and employers. There is consequently, and quite understandably, the concern over privacy due to digitisation which has been an issue of increasing concern with the growing rate of cyber crimes.This is why government agencies in charge of privacy like must set strict privacy protocols for EHR vendors to follow and ensure that health records are kept secure and private.Irrespective of these lapses, EHR can still be looked upon as the hope and future of healthcare because many professionals still consider it an inevitable step in the right direction. In line with digital revolution, BlessWorld Foundation is in her final stages of unveiling the World Hospital Initiative Project (WHIP)- a digital platform that represents a one-stop-shop for all health care goods and services across  the globe

Broadly speaking, Social change is defined as any change in social relations and interactions that transforms societal structures and institutions. Social change is constantly occurring in the society because change itself is constant and inevitable. It is important to note that no society ever remains the same. As times change, societies undergo either enforced, or gradual but significant alterations and transformations in social order and mechanisms. These transformations usually have profound long-term consequences for individuals and the society at large. As a social determinant of health, social change affects health, and consequently, the quality of life; hence, positive changes improve health while negative changes depreciate health.

Social change mostly results in increased awareness and understanding  because it allows for the circulation of  information, which enables people and communities to make informed decisions. It also results in improved civic participation  which can be attributed to behaviour change and motivation to challenge instances of injustice.

Some changes in the society are neither gradual nor natural, but are fought for and enforced to transform the community. Revolutionary social change almost  always begins  with individuals- it starts with personal changes which then develop into passionate commitment  needed to undertake group and community change in general. Individual interactions and relationships facilitate social change- understanding and respecting the differences in opinions and life experiences as well as accepting that there are limitless perspectives and points of view in the world.

 An important aspect of social change is the direction of the change. Creating the changes we want require conscious commitment to shaping the direction of social change. Popular examples of social change include social movements in civil rights, women’s rights, and LBGTQ rights. These changes resulted in relationship, institutional, cultural, transformative and organizational changes.

Agents and drivers of social change include various pivotal factors and situations that arise or need to be fulfilled to produce the required change. These types of change involve addressing urgent sustainability issues and challenges such as loss of biodiversity  and climate changes. These changes are guided and facilitated by the application of practical knowledge, education, scientific and social research,  and experience. For change to be successful, the community must be fully involved both in the development and implementation processes of social change policies. Engaging grassroots inspires participation and cooperation, especially when the change requires behaviour modification and compliance. 

Major agents and sources of social change  include;

  • Diffusion and Population change
  • Technological  Advancement
  • Industrialization and Revolution
  • Change in Ideology and Culture
  • Economic fluctuations and Political movements
  • Environmental impact and Evolution
  • Social conflict and Competition
  • Modernization and Urbanization
  • Bureaucratization and Acculturation
  • Mass dissatisfaction
  • Disease outbreak, as in the case of COVID-19

COVID-19 represents an example of urgent, grassroots and  transformative source of social change, resulting in a complete change social behaviour- social distancing, wearing of masks, frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizers. The pandemic enforced change in social and health behaviours across the world in order to prevent and control its spread. Organizations such as BlessWorld Foundation continues to support this social change by providing palliatives in form of cash prizes to youths in different communities.

It is a daunting task to remain calm, positive and hopeful in the middle of a pandemic. The pandemic period is a time of uncertainty, anxiety and fear given how fluid the situation is. With Covid-19 whose mode of spread is airborne, the situation becomes even more delicate as it is very easy to get infected. Despite the current pandemic, it is essential to look on the bright side  and turn off the news every once in a while. This is important because it is a hard time for everyone and it’s easy to become frustrated, depressed or stressed out. Emotions run all over the place ranging from feeling very okay to feeling very scared, so patience with oneself is paramount. Indulging distractions such as watching movies and going out with friends can be really helpful ways remain sane. Other ways to reduce anxiety and calm one’s nerves  include:

  • Allowing oneself to feel
  • Taking deep breaths 
  • Staying connected with family and friends online
  • Being physically active at home
  • Daily Meditations

Besides the preceding physical ways to stay positive and keep hope alive, some people who are more religious and spiritual may chose to look inward to find hope. With religious homes closedown due to the pandemic, personal spirituality must be practiced to connect with one’s own creator in order to successfully use religion as a coping mechanism. 

Covid-19 has thrown more light on the harsh realities of the many inequities and inequalities that burden our world. Already existing wealth disparities between, and within countries now risk being exacerbated even further by this pandemic. The United Nations, World Health Organisation and other international leaders need to recommit to their  vision and values as well as  use other multi-lateral bodies—including the G-20, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank—to proactively support the world’s most vulnerable.

Covid-19 poses a brand new challenge for world leaders as there hasn’t been any pandemic in recent decades that brought the world to a complete halt like this. The disease prospects is on track to potentially cause a significant  economic downturn  and a high number of deaths with impacts  felt around the globe. To acutely prevent this historic threat, national and international leaders must immediately put aside narrow nationalism and temporary, selfish considerations to work together in the common interest of all humanity. The  past and present Secretary-Generals of the United Nations called for an additional $2 billion in humanitarian aid to control this pandemic. This aid is expected to contribute to key efforts to reduce spread of the virus such as developing and distributing tests, treatments and vaccines. In addition, global leaders need to set preventive measures in place by developing a global governance system that can cope more effectively with future pandemics. 

To keep hope alive, everyone must remember that nobody is above this suffering, and anyone can be infected. Therefore, it’s important to extend our hands to others who lack homes, resources or families to protect them. We have a unique opportunity to come together and bridge our differences as one humanity. Whether it’s by donating blood, giving to local food banks, checking in on neighbours or just staying home- these small gestures in a time of crisis make the big  difference. This crisis shows us that we are just one global family—even though we live apart. Consequently, we have a responsibility to exercise compassion and help. In this time, let us also make it a duty to go out of our way to support health care heroes who answered the call of a world in need. Take a moment to send a thank you note to a local hospital and express gratitude to neighbours who works in health care, because every sign of support goes a long way. It is this spirit of support and  global togetherness that keeps us positive and hopeful. In this time of crisis, we are all neighbours, and success will only be achieved when all people, in all places, are safe..

As with the principle of impermanence; eventually, this pandemic will pass, as have wars and other terrible threats that humanity faced, lived beyond and overcame. I genuinely hope that we stay positive and hopeful despite the uncertainties that surround us because we will successfully rebuild our global community when this is over. We are conquerors.

Everyone has probably heard the popular saying, “health is wealth”. Indeed, this is true because health is considered an invaluable possession without which life becomes miserable and burdensome. To better understand this saying, it is important to consider the  meaning and significance of the two major  words that make it up. According to the World Health Organization, Health does not only mean the absence of disease but a complete physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. It also includes having a healthy and enabling environment which makes it easier to make healthier choices and lead healthier lives. On the other hand, Wealth is defined as large amounts of money, valuable possessions, properties or other forms of riches. Wealth, like health, is an essential need and it’s possession almost always  guarantees a life of satisfaction, happiness, success , contentment and freedom from lack.

Many people share in the belief that “health is wealth” because no matter how much wealth one acquires, it is impossible to enjoy it without good health. Therefore, the happiness and satisfaction that comes with wealth is unattainable without health.Equating health to wealth implies that good health is all one needs to be happy and live a fulfilling life that would otherwise be attributed to wealth. This was further proved to be true in the the light of the recent Covid-19 pandemic as no amount of wealth could buy or guarantee freedom from coronavirus infection. The pandemic showed that health was invaluable because it couldn’t be bought with any amount of wealth and wealthy people died helplessly. It is important to note that many people prioritize wealth over health and are in  constant struggle and stress to acquire  wealth. Such people often compromise or lose their health entirely- they clearly take health for granted and do not share in the ideology that “ health is wealth”, hence, the need to chase wealth at the expense of  health. They believe that without wealth, health is meaningless as there may be hardships and unhappiness due to lack of resources. Consequently, “Health is Wealth” can be viewed  as a mindset and may represent an unrealistic worldview and approach to life in general.

Although simple and seemingly straightforward, “Health is Wealth”  is an ancient adage  that is filled  with deep wisdom and immense meaning.  As a worldview, people hold varying opinions of the phrase; Some believe that wealth is everything and can buy anything including intangibles like health, love and happiness. However, this is false; health has been seen to be more valuable than wealth in all societies around the world. Diseases and of course, Covid-19 exist as a constant reminder that no amount of money, influence or resources can save anyone from death. Health is wealth because without it, no one can enjoy anything in life. Health is wealth because without it no one would be able to work productively and therefore, there would be little chances and opportunities of acquiring wealth . To generate income, one has to work and that cannot be done without good health. Therefore, health is also very necessary for generating wealth which is thus dependent on it.

For the majority of us,  ‘Wealth’ means having lots of money and properties such as lands, houses, luxury cars, farms, precious stones or things that have monetary value.. But this limits the scope and vision of the term ‘Wealth’. To broaden the meaning, we recall that the ‘knowledge’ and ‘experience’ are termed  ‘Wealth’. which although their value can bring money , does not directly translate to money. 

The  following reiterate that truly, “Health is Wealth”

  • Health is the Foundation for Wealth: Health promotes wealth because a healthy person is more active, intelligent and efficient, and this directly affects income and wealth creation
  • Health is an Investment with Good Returns: Healthy people are more likely to live longer than unhealthy people , and the longer one lives the more they enjoy their wealth.
  • Health is a means to Better Living: Good health naturally empowers the body to maximize its potential physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and financially
  • Healthy Mind Stays in a Healthy Body: Intelligence, creativity, humour, humility, self-esteem, communication, conscience and other aspects of the mind are dependent on a healthy lifestyle
  • Money Saved is Money Earned: Good health saves the money which could be used to treat illnesses, people have gone bankrupt from treatment costs

In conclusion, having the mindset that “Health is Wealth” and prioritizing health issues are ways to uphold the adage while laziness, poor time management and carefreeness are ways to derail ones health.By stressing the dynamic relationship between health and wealth, we illustrate how BlessWorld Foundation, works to improve health systems through the World Health Initiative project and many other programs. Our organization maintains that the health sector should not be viewed as a mere drain on resources but rather  a precursor of economic gains and wealth.

COVID 19 is a disease caused by the Novel Coronavirus- SARS-CoV-2. The disease which caused a pandemic began late 2019 in Wuhan China and was named by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Many sectors of the economy have been ravaged by the COVID 19 pandemic including education, transportation and in fact, all social activities. Categorically, the ban placed on movement and consequently, on every sector, has stifled so many businesses. 

The pandemic has also spurred mass layoffs across countries and many industries have taken a significant hit. A lot of companies announced the downsizing of their work force. For example, Qantas airways, a major airline in Australia laid off two-third of its workers. The CEO of Qantas airways, Alan Joyce, defended this layoff saying that the Coronavirus is the worst crisis to ever hit the aviation industry. On April 28, online travel company, TripAdvisor announced it would lay off more than 900 of its employees amounting to a quarter of its workforce. On March 19, Air Canada announced its readiness to layoff 50% of its flight crew.The list is endless. 

On the flip side, healthcare and technology witnessed a significant boost in service provision. In fact, hospitals were saturated and people were willing to pay anything to get help. Also, technology and social networks, which replaced physical contact, became the go-to as people found ways to adapt to the new reality. Tele-health, Zoom app, Tik Tok, and Social media challenges became most popular during this pandemic.

Given the ease of spread as with similar flu viruses, COVID 19 affected over 180 countries with the United States reaching 5 million cases this August, and replacing China as the country with the highest number of cases. Other countries hardly hit and badly affected by the virus include Brazil (3.5 million cases), India (3 million cases), Russia (957,000 cases), Spain (368,000), United Kingdom (386,000 cases) and Italy (238,000 cases). On the other hand, some countries such as New Zealand (1,674 cases), Slovenia (2,651 cases), Finland (7,920 cases), Norway (10,318 cases), Denmark (16,000) and South Korea (17,000 cases) showed excellent emergency preparedness by quickly keeping the deadly virus under control. These countries successfully suppressed the transmission of the virus by implementing policies that limited public movement and social contact as well as promoting behaviors that hindered the viral spread.

 The prospects of recovery from the impacts of COVID 19 may not be apparent or readily observable in these gloomy times but with the right plans in place, recovery is inevitable. It is quite evident that the COVID 19 pandemic has done a pretty good job at exposing the weaknesses and shortcomings of the various sectors mostly health and transportation sectors. It has revealed the lack of emergency preparedness and poor crisis management. Nonetheless, this unprecedented break, if well managed could provide the needed time for restructuring. In the time being, the use of cues to remind people about social distancing, the availability of public hand sanitizers and compulsory face mask laws have all proved and remained effective in promoting positive attitude, inspiring healthy behaviours, curbing the spread of the virus and consequently, flattening the curve.

CORONAVIRUS:  SYMPTOMS AND PREVENTION- HOW TO PROTECT MYSELF AND OTHERS

Following exposure to coronavirus, it takes about 14 days for symptoms to develop. This is called the incubation period of the virus, which is the number of days between coming in contact with the infectious agent (exposure to droplets of infected people) and the establishment of an infection. An infection is established when the virus replicates in sufficient amount to overwhelm the host’s immunity and cause symptoms. Symptoms associated with corona virus are somewhat similar to that of other viruses that cause upper respiratory tract infections. They include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing and Wheezing
  • Coughing and Sore throat
  • Headache and Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Shortness of breath and breathing difficulties

Most of the above listed symptoms are identical to some other viral infections making it challenging to reach a diagnosis. Corona virus usually affects the upper respiratory tract and can be mild. However, the infection may become severe and result in more serious conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure or death if it affects lower respiratory tract, including lungs and windpipe. The severity of the symptoms is much more in older adults and vulnerable populations with compromised immunity. It is important to seek medical advice if one comes in close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19. More so, people who live in or have recently traveled from areas with ongoing spread of COVID-19 should be isolated for 14days. Since the major reliable and medically protective measure- vaccination, is not yet available for corona virus, it is important to follow a few simple guidelines and measures to prevent infection:

  • Proper and frequent hand washing with soap or any other alcohol-based hand sanitizer- for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing the nose, coughing,  sneezing, going to the bathroom and before eating or preparing food
  • Covering nose and mouth with tissues when sneezing or coughing, tissues should be immediately disposed properly in a trash can
  • Social distancing and avoiding any form of close contact with infected individuals, typically anybody feeling feverish or exhibiting associated symptoms
  • Cooking foods thoroughly, particularly meat and eggs, before consumption
  • Avoid touching face- eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Staying and remaining home when sick
  • Keeping oneself protected when in contact with wild or domestic animals, dead or alive
  • Drinking sufficient amounts of fluids daily
  • Getting adequate rest and taking prescribed over-the-counter medicines in case of sore throat or fever

Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart, they are lined by a thin layer of cells called endothelium, which keep them smooth and allow blood to flow easily. Arteriosclerosis is a situation where these blood vessels that carry blood-containing oxygen and nutrients, from the heart to other parts of the body thicken and become stiff, causing restrictions in blood flow to body organs and tissues. Usually, the structure of arteries allows them to be flexible and elastic; however, the arterial walls can harden and become narrow in another condition commonly known as Atherosclerosis. In this condition, the arteries become narrowed and hardened due to a buildup of plaque around the artery wall; it is also known as arteriosclerotic vascular disease.

Similar to Atherosclerosis, Arteriosclerosis disrupts blood flow around the body, posing the risk of serious complications. It occurs when the endothelium becomes damaged, allowing harmful cholesterol to build up in walls of the artery. To fight this problem, the body sends white blood cell to flush out the cholesterol, however, these cells may become stuck at the affected site building up plaque. In extreme cases, the plaque may break open, cause blood clots and result in life-threatening complications, such as stroke and heart attack.

Risk factors for arteriosclerosis (Arteriosclerosis is the stiffening or hardening of the artery walls) and Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the artery because of plaque build-up- a specific type of arteriosclerosis) include high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, air pollution, genetics,  and high levels of sugar in the blood. Symptoms of these conditions depend on whether it’s the carotid, coronary or renal arteries that are affected. General symptoms include weakness, difficulty breathing, headache, facial numbness, paralysis, vomiting, anxiety, chest pain, coughing, loss of appetite, swelling of the hands and feet and difficulty concentrating

Diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis are important to prevent complications. Common methods of diagnosis include:

  • Blood tests which measure sugar, fat and protein content in the blood
  • Physical exams used to detect plaques, weak pulse, low blood pressure, aneurysm and wounds that don’t heal properly
  • Ultrasound scanner can be used to check blood pressure at distinct parts of the body- pressure changes may indicate arteries that have an obstructed blood flow.
  • CT scan is used to find arteries that are hardened and narrowed.

Treatment options include lifestyle changes including maintaining a healthy weight, medications that have antiplatelet capacity and surgical interventions such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). However, it is important that atherosclerosis is accurately diagnosed, and on time, to ensure the functions of the arteries are returned to full capability. It is always better to prevent the development of by eating a good diet, frequent exercise and not smoking.

Empowerment means equipping and arming people with the knowledge , potential and requirements to become independent or self sufficient in order to achieve a goal. Youth empowerment is a process where young people are encouraged, supported and equipped to take charge of their lives. It requires addressing negative or limiting situations so as to improve access to resources and transform oneself through beliefs, values, and actions. The aim of youth empowerment is to improve the quality of life of young people and increase dependence on oneself. This is achieved by creating and encouraging participation in youth empowerment programs such as training, education and information sessions or workshops.

The importance and benefits of youth empowerment to individuals, families, communities and nations cannot be overstated. The rationale behind empowerment is to enable participation and enhance control through shared decision making by creating opportunities to learn, practice, and increase skills. Empowerment theory predicts that engaging young people in social, knowledge-acquiring and community-enhancing activities which they define and control, allows them to gain essential skills, responsibilities, and confidence necessary to become productive and healthy adults. Youth empowerment ensures the existence of the five competencies of a healthy youth: (1) positive sense of self, (2) self- control, (3) decision-making skills, (4) a moral system of belief, and (5) pro-social connectedness.
Empowerment takes various forms and considers six interdependent areas including individual, community, organizational, economic, social and cultural.

Around the world, several youth empowerment models and programs are used to help youth achieve empowerment. These programs are available through non-profit organizations, government organizations, schools or private organizations, individual foundations. Some youths often take the initiative to empower themselves by seeking and taking advantage of these programs. Over the years, various social action and empowerment movements, including youth empowerment, educate the girl child, poverty alleviation and women empowerment spring up, and become institutionalized. Youth empowerment is often described as a marker of development, as well as a roadmap to economic growth, intergenerational equity, civic engagement and democracy building. This is because many activities such as education, business, media, rights, leadership and activism focus on the youths due to increased youth involvement in community decision-making.

Individual empowerment enhances individual’s consciousness by increasing awareness and knowledge of problems and solutions. This creates self-confidence and sufficiency in decision making and problem solving thereby increasing the quality of life. Community empowerment focuses on community enhancement through leadership development, communication, and networking to address community issues. Organizational empowerment creates a resource base for the community, including organizations and associations that protect, promote and advocate for the less privileged. Economic empowerment provides training and entrepreneurial skills including how have income security. Social empowerment teaches youth about social inclusion and literacy as well as promotes proactivity. Cultural empowerment highlights and emphasizes cultural practices, rules and norms.
These different forms of empowerment help to develop the youth in one or more aspects of their lives. The overall aim of youth empowerment programs is to create healthier and higher qualities of life for underprivileged and at-risk youth.

12.12.2015

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