Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Health Protection Regulation, which makes wearing a face mask in public places a compulsory act and a punishable offence if one refuses to wear it. Immediately, mobile courts were established and scores of offenders were arrested and tried for breaking the new health order.
However, the questions to be asked are: what makes people have a brush with the law for violating this simple public health order? What makes them find it difficult to comply with Covid-19 protocols in general? A brief observation in the street shows many Nigerians have misconceptions, false assumptions concerning medical health sciences and Covid-19 pandemic in particular.
It is apparent, the preventive lockdown measures in the wake of pandemic has caused hardship around the world. Public health emergencies were imposed which placed social restrictions on people’s lives. Market places, industries, stadia, pubs and clubs were closed down, painful measures which reset the world economy into recession and a New Normal way of life that forces people to work and study from home.
They say, “All wealth is health” hence, there is a need for authorities in the field of medical health sciences, to place more priority on disseminating preventive health information to the general public. People should be positively oriented on modern medical practices in order to rid them of some misconceptions, cynicism, feelings, negative attitudes, conspiracy theories, superstitious beliefs and unhealthy lifestyles.
It is obvious, preventive health education which is most preferred and cheaper is yet to be understood among most of the citizens. Unfortunately, many people succumb to falling ill, then go out scrambling seeking medical consultations, and paying huge medical bills instead of taking a practical action of the popular adage of ”prevention is better than cure”.
If Nigeria aspires to achieve universal health care for all, there must be effective implementation of health policy to sensitise the general public on preventive health on common diseases in schools curriculum at every level. Medical information should be simplified and translated for an ordinary person on the street to understand, and the media should be empowered to disseminate vital public health information consistently.
Many lives will be saved and many losses would not have occurred, if there is sufficient knowledge about basic health information on the curable diseases across the nation. There is a need for health education which can change the attitude, feelings, thinking and behavior of citizens about diseases and their causes, which is scientifically proved by current advanced medical research.
Our freewill is one of the determinant factors of our health, for an individual to be healthy, his knowledge, positive attitude and healthy lifestyle are paramount. Health experts say 70% of our wellbeing resides within what we are determined to do, or negligently fails to do.
Nigeria is one of the most populous countries in the world. People are waking up early in the morning trooping into the congested public hospitals, filling over-stretched health facilities and joining long queues seeking medical services. They assumed it is only a one-stop solution to all their Health problems.
To some, they depend on their emotion; many people directly ascribed all their ill-health to spiritual attacks by one of their rival enemies or witches struck on their good fortune. Many will fail to take doctor’s advice on their health statuses or even refuse to take their prescriptive doses as prescribed by health experts.
Many people’s attitudes and practices about health are unscientific and contrary with the modern health sciences. For instance, at a time where many countries are struggling with high rates of infections and deaths; digging mass graves for the dead, yet a lot of people are still denying the existence of covid-19 pandemic. Their thinking is in contrast with the research of public health experts.
Corona virus is based on an objective study of virologists and public health experts of our natural world based on facts learned through the process of experiments and observations. There is a need for social campaigns to change people’s misconceptions. To understand the methodology of the medical science process of research, effective teaching of science subjects should be implemented.
Many misconceptions arise in the wake of this global pandemic. It was concocted to depopulate the Africans or it is hijacked by the ruling class to cash out money from public money. Some it is a “business” for serving political interest. Some even said it is a disease for the rich and famous of which they are naturally “immune” against it.
The way an individual thinks about himself and his health cannot be overemphasized. People should be health conscious. They should realize there is a link between healthy living and personal hygiene, environmental sanitation, nutritional diet, attitude, traditions, and feelings are crucial in achieving good health.
Our street is littered with social-indiscipline; it is almost synonymous with the country. Wearing a face mask should be an act of self without a law enforcement officer by the road side. We must observe social distance and should wash our hands regularly “cleanliness is closer to Godliness”.
Adnan Abdullahi Adam,
Ungogo LGA, Kano