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Jan 13
Focus on your health to stay on top of your game in 2023

By: Lunga Memela (HST Communications Engagement Lead)

Happy New Year! The festive season has come and gone, most people have returned to work, and it's #Back2School preparation for parents, guardians and learners. In the air is still lingering hope, hope for health and prosperity in the new year, underpinned by a spate of new year's resolutions.

We've often seen people flock to the gym and recreational parks to kick-start the year in detox mode, but the enthusiasm fizzles out and before we know it, it's back to mundane routines, unhealthy eating habits and taking on heavy workloads – all of which deplete our general sense of self-care.

However, the reality with new year's resolutions is that: "one third of resolutioners don't make it past the end of January". This is according to an article published in The New York Times, penned by Jen A. Miller, and titled: How to Make (and Keep) a New Year's Resolution.

Your health is your wealth

It is common knowledge that when people are in good health, they work more productively. The Health Systems Trust (HST) ran a social media campaign in 2022 where employees, starting with the CEO, Dr Themba Moeti, took a vow to take better care of their health and overall wellness. This was inspired by the World Health Organization's (WHO) Self-care Month campaign that begins on 24 June ending on Self-care Day, which is commemorated on 24 July annually. According to WHO, "This symbolic day was chosen because self-care can be practiced '24 hours a day/7 days a week'."

In a video on self-care, WHO explains that: "When individuals are given the opportunity to become active agents in their health, and not merely passive recipients of health services, their health outcomes improve". WHO strongly promotes self-care and its ability to pave the way towards universal health coverage and a world where everyone is able to realise their right to health. The Department of Health in South Africa also prioritised this initiative, encouraging citizens to know their overall health status through a wellness campaign launched under the hashtag: #ChekaImpilo. This campaign lobbies for  testing and
treating people for HIV, TB, STIs and non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

At HST, the campaign was a reminder to staff and followers of the organisation's social media pages that taking care of your health is probably the best shot you have at living a long, fulfilling and meaningful life. The campaign highlighted that self-care should be prioritised year-round and is, quite frankly, a life-long campaign requiring continuous effort from all members of society, young and old.

Kudos to KZN's Department of Health

Entering a new year is always a good opportunity for us to consider visiting our nearest heath facility to gain a sense of our overall health status. Residents of South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province are increasingly being encouraged to know their health status, thanks to a Department of Health (KZN DoH) initiative, Isibhedlela kubantu, that is bringing an array of hospital services to communities in townships and rural areas. At these events, residents receive free health screening on-site, offered by KZN DoH's District Support Implementers (DSIs) such as HST. Community members are provided access to: 

  • HIV testing services (HTS)
  • Tuberculosis (TB) screening
  • Screening for hypertension and diabetes
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) calculations
  • X-rays
  • Pap smears
  • Dental and eye-care services
  • Voluntary medical male circumcision
  • Screening for minor ailments and chronic diseases
  • Family planning
  • Immunisation
  • A children's clinic
  • A clinic for the elderly where those in need are issued assistive devices.

This one-stop-shop approach is a preventative measure, and also results in the early diagnosis of diseases people may not have been aware of in their own bodies. It incorporates women's health, men's health, adolescent- and child health.

The International Self-Care Foundation developed a reader-friendly framework for self-care around seven 'pillars' or 'domains' illustrated above. Visit their website.

Not all new year's resolutions fizzle

The United Nations (@TheGlobalGoals) recently affirmed its commitment to the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development to reduce poverty, inequalities, tackle climate change and promote good health and well-being for all, tweeting at the dawn of 2023: New year, same (Global) Goals!

On 1 January, UNAIDS also shared a tweet drawing attention to its latest report that calls for urgent action to tackle inequalities and get the AIDS response on track. United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) tweeted their 2023 new year's resolution: committing to help vaccinate millions more children by 2025, advocate for vaccine access and equity, and to actively speak up about vaccine misinformation.

We may not have control over emerging public health emergencies such as the devastating outbreak of COVID-19, but where we can, we must take a proactive stance in favour of our health. It is within our power to make those new year's resolutions a reality, to be our own best health advocates, to help with living our best lives. 


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 Content Editor