Life expectancy in Japan is 84 but 54 in Nigeria. That means on the average, someone living in Nigeria will die 30 years earlier than a person living in Japan.
So if you are a Nigerian willing to live long enough to see your grandchildren in good health, relocate to Japan! Simple solution? It could be – if only the Japanese Government will open its borders to allow all 200m Nigerians move over to their country.
Ok let’s get serious. That won’t happen, not in a thousand years. So then while waiting for the time the Nigerian Government at all levels will finally fix healthcare, what practical steps can anyone living in the country take to realistically increase their chances of living in good health to a ripe old age?
1. Be Vaccinated
With the world currently going through a pandemic, have you received your Covid-19 vaccine yet? If not, why not?
You do not only need a vaccine against Coronavirus, it is to your health advantage for you or your child to be vaccinated against diseases like cholera, chickenpox, polio, Hepatitis, measles, typhoid, meningitis and other infectious diseases.
Don’t be swayed by conspiracies and unscientific facts. Vaccines are designed to protect you and other people in the community from many serious and potentially deadly diseases. You can always talk to your doctor for advice on the appropriate vaccines for you or your child.
If you live in Nigeria and haven’t received your Covid-19 vaccine but would like to do so, go and enrol for the vaccine via the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) E-Registration portal: https://nphcda.vaccination.gov.ng/.
Once registered, a vaccination ID will be generated, and a confirmation text message and email will be sent to you. You are to then proceed to any of the 183 vaccination sites you selected while registering along with your vaccination ID, confirmation text and a means of identification to receive your vaccine.
Booking and receiving the Covid-19 vaccine in Nigeria is completely free.
2. Take up Health Insurance
Health risks, uncertainties and emergencies are part of life. You need to be prepared for them. Oftentimes, developing a health problem is not the real problem but not having money to fight it. Healthcare is expensive all over the world, not just in Nigeria. Having a health insurance in place means you are better prepared financially against health risks whenever they occur.
Sadly, only 5% of Nigerians have health insurance. The vast majority pay for their healthcare out-of-pocket which oftentimes is inadequate or unavailable to offset their bills when they develop health issues.
Health insurance plans are available from accredited Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) in Nigeria starting from around N3,000 per month or N36,000 a year, an amount affordable to many.
There is widespread lack of awareness, misinformation, cultural and religious inhibitions towards health insurance in Nigeria. No, health insurance is not for civil servants and employees of multinationals alone. It is designed for everybody. And taking up health insurance does not mean you no longer believe that God is your protector and healer.
You can compare the costs of health insurance plans from different HMOs on MyMedicalBank Health Market if you are unsure of where to start from.
3. Consume Only Healthy Food and Drink
Not every food and drink sold in the marketplace is necessarily healthy for consumption.
Medical practitioners have consistently warned that the wanton consumption of herbal mixtures like Opa eyin, Ogidiga, Ale, Baby Oku, Afato, Kerewa, Paraga, Monkey Shoulder, Koboko and others has led to increase in renal and kidney failures in Nigeria unfortunately including among the young ones.
In particular, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) issued a warning in 2018 that over 80 percent of herbal drinks in Nigeria are substandard and unhealthy for consumption as they are capable of damaging consumers’ internal organs.
The message is simple: watch not only what you drink but also what you eat. You are what you eat. It matters what you eat or drink and where you buy or consume it from.
The general principle is to avoid as much as possible self-medication, consuming unapproved drinks, smoking, eating foods with sugar, salt, saturated fat or high carbohydrate.
4. Be Safety-Conscious
Whether you are driving on the road, staying at home or working in your workplace, be safety-conscious. Prioritize health and safety at all times. Put measures in place to prevent, minimize or mitigate accidents wherever you operate.
Don’t overspeed. Don’t drink and drive. Obey traffic rules and keep your vehicle road worthy as most road accidents are avoidable.
Have first aid box at home or better still, learn first aid techniques. Install a smoke detector in your kitchen.
Practice safe sex. Be security-aware. Keep your private information private.
The principle here is to take necessary precautions to keep safe.
5. Go for Regular Health Check-Up
When next you are marking your birthday, have you thought of going for a health check-up as part measures to celebrate yourself?
You do not need to fall sick before going for a medical check-up particularly if you are aged 40 and over. Regular check-ups including basic ones like monitoring blood pressure (BP), cholesterol level, blood sugar, BMI, pulse and respiratory rate help to identify health risks early on before they deteriorate.
Early diagnosis of acute and chronic conditions like cancer, stroke, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases will significantly increase your chances of receiving timely treatment and survival.
Check-ups provide opportunities for your doctor to discuss with you positive lifestyle changes you can adopt such as losing weight, giving up smoking, doing more exercise or reducing alcohol intake.
There are gender-specific screening programmes you should also undertake such as breast cancer screening and cervical screening for women and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for men over 50.
With the growing digitization of healthcare access in Nigeria, you can now book appointment on your phone for a doctor to visit you at home for general medical check-up for you and your family from only N10,000.
Similarly, there are numerous medical laboratories and diagnostic centres where you can book a comprehensive health check for between N20,000-N200,000.
Platforms like HomeCare and Clinic Visit offer a quick means to compare costs from various providers and to book home-based or on-site screening services.
6. Be Positive-minded, Happy and Contented
With unending news of the devastating activities of Boko Haram, bandits and herdsmen kidnappers and constant reports of tough economic terrain, hyperinflation, high unemployment and poor health infrastructure dominating the airwaves, understandably it is so easy to become weighed down when these happenings are juxtaposed with personal struggles.
Yet the reality of life is that there will always be challenges to contend with.
To maintain sound mental health and live longer, it is important you learn to be positive-minded. It has been scientifically proven that letting go of anger and bitterness has physical health benefit. Forgiveness has been shown to reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure. Being happy can reduce the risk of heart disease by 13-26%, the biggest cause of death worldwide. Happiness has other positive health impacts such as helping to reduce pain in other conditions, protecting against stroke and reducing frailty.
You won’t be able to avoid stress completely, but you can learn ways to control it. Focus on the bright side of events, be grateful, be contended with what you have, make friends and maintain social ties, learn to relax and rest well. These practices will impact positively on your emotional wellbeing and ultimately contribute to your physical health.
7. Stay Physically Active, Sleep Well
Regular exercise can slow your aging by boosting an enzyme that can make your chromosomes longer. Doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity like brisk walking or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity like running each week is the standard recommendation for adults aged 19 to 64.
Ensure you make sleep a priority in order for your body to remain healthy and stave off diseases. Sleep allows your body and mind to recharge ensuring that you are refreshed when you wake up. Sleep boosts immunity and mental wellbeing. Getting enough quality sleep can lower your risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and mood disorders as well as helping you recover more quickly from illness.
Studies have shown sleeping less than 5 hours a night increases your risk of developing diabetes particularly type 2 and dying early. A sleep of 7 hours or more is recommended for adults aged 18 and over.
What are your thoughts on enjoying good health in Nigeria? Let’s hear from you in the comment section below.
www.mymedicalbank.com is Nigeria’s no.1 digital platform that connects you with healthcare providers, health information and access to your health records from any location or care setting. For enquiries, go to https://mymedicalbank.com/appointment.html.