Discussions on health are always demanding, but as with everything else these discussions get fluctuating attention from the public. This world health day comes at a time when mankind is faced with a pandemic the likes of which only a few generations have seen. The theme for this world health day is” building a fairer healthier world”.

The question one can ask therefore is what is a “fairer healthier” world? A more relevant question would be how can we build a fairer healthier world? Let us look at the simple steps we can take to ensure that.

Nothing is more relevant today than the COVID 19 pandemic. All governments are imploring us to follow Covid appropriate behavior, yet many of us do not do that. This is indeed deplorable. The least we can do is to put on masks (and put them on properly while we’re at it) and to avoid unnecessary outings. We all love parties, we love our freedom and we don’t like people telling us what to do, but these are challenging times and it is best to avoid large gatherings, crowded public places, parties, beaches, etc. If you have symptoms, get tested and quarantine yourself. Do not flout quarantine rules. We have to overcome this pandemic and the key to that is in each individual’s hand.

The pandemic has been tough on the LGBTQI community. People have lost jobs, been forced away from partners, forced to live with people who have otherwise rejected them: a huge toll on mental health, forget the fairness of the situation. But as a community, we are resilient. And these times call for extraordinary resilience. I am reminded of an oft quoted Dumbledore quote “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times…”So ask for help if you need it. From a health care perspective don’t shrink away from seeking help on mental health issues.

Sexual health is an often under discussed public health issue. It is one area where fairness and health are like two sides of a coin. As always, the key to a sexually healthy humanity is in our hands. The issues are the same as before. Safe sexual practices are important. Using condoms (for any form of intercourse including oral), making people aware about contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. If you’re afraid of having contracted an STD, get tested. We have treatment even for HIV. Do not discriminate against HIV positive people. Nothing comes out of believing myths such as HIV spreading by kissing or sharing food, etc.

We need more young people to become aware of reproductive health. We need discussions on menstruation. These should happen in every household. If you’re not aware of these it’s high time to ask Google.

Women’s health issues deserve a mention. Anemia, menstrual disorders, pregnancy and lactation are not often discussed enough. There are several government schemes working to address these issues. Women health is the central tenet of a healthy society and our societal prejudices get the better of it. We can change that. Let us not keep discussions like periods, pregnancy and abortion a taboo. Taboos break when people speak up about it. Its ultimately in our hands. It’s unfair the way these issues are treated, which very often leads to huge heath issues.

There is a huge burden of non-communicable disease today. Heart diseases, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and cancer. Many of these are lifestyle related. Junk food and

sedentary lifestyles have made us prone to many of these diseases. While there is a need to improve our food habits if they’re faulty, it is better to restrict exercising at homes while the pandemic is on. Lung cancer kills so many people globally. Smoking is a leading cause. One needs to avoid that and encourage others to do the same. Amongst women breast carcinoma is rampant. We need to make people aware on how to perform breast self-exams and picking up breast cancers early.

More and more government schemes have come up to make cancer treatment affordable. We need these schemes to reach a wider population.

Apart from COVID other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, leprosy, dengue, malaria, leptospirosis, filariasis (in some areas), hepatitis, typhoid, cholera, etc continue to plague our country. Improving public hygiene is a simple step in preventing this. To that extent the Swachh Bharat Mission is an exemplary scheme we can all contribute to. Simple tasks of segregating household wastes, not throwing garbage here and there will go a long way in making our country cleaner. Provision of safe drinking water and toilets are also burning issues. These are covered under the umbrella of Swacch Bharat mission. While the governments at state and central levels work towards these issues, we can do our bit and raise awareness about these. The issue of washing hands is so relevant today. It’s a good idea to Google the same and find out the steps of handwashing.

As our civilization grows and our country becomes more prosperous the health needs of our society will grow. The demands of the population will grow.  As our democracy matures people become more aware of their rights. There’s an intricate web of growth, prosperity, rights, happiness all merging with a society and a world that is fairer and healthier.

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