Yesterday, the world marked World Heart Day with a flurry of events and activities centering on heart disease. From advice about what to do to prevent heart ailments, to how to manage one’s lifestyle and habits, a plethora of information about the disease was made available.
It got one thinking that in the vast spectrum of ailments, there are some that are better publicised in a way and are better understood by people than others. Heart ailments have been hugely publicised and receive a lot of attention. Health food manufacturers bombard viewers on how to keep the heart healthy, and celebrities tied to the cause shine bright in the spotlight. While this is a good thing, one has to make an effort to raise awareness of other diseases too.
Lung disease awareness needs a boost, given the high pollution in our city. Only now are we beginning to see some understanding about asthma. Still, relatively little is known about another lung affliction like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and the absolute importance of stopping smoking, to keep lungs healthy.
People need more education and information about malaria, dengue and water-borne diseases. The most important, of course, is to bring mental illness on the radar and blow away myths about the swathes of illnesses that fall into this bracket. There is so much stigma associated with mental illness. Because these illnesses are not physically apparent, people also tend to dismiss those suffering from them, or take them lightly. It is only when a suffering celebrity hits the headlines that there is a brief awareness but, unfortunately, this is not consistent. For instance, there is always some awareness about depression when a celebrity takes his or her life.
So, it is important that we start concentrating on less-known ailments, their causes, ramifications and symptoms. Celebrities associating with a cause always help but doctors and the media need to work in tandem to disseminate correct knowledge a useful tool in sickness and health.