Five health beliefs that are keeping Nigerians sick
A lot of the problems that we face in Nigeria are self-created. We have certain beliefs that we hold so dear, as if they are facts. And these beliefs govern our decisions and our choices.
A lot of them affect our health and sabotage even medical efforts to help us. Here are some of the beliefs I have discovered amongst my patients that have been detrimental to their health.
1: You only develop high blood pressure (hypertension) when you are under stress. So many people believe that stress is the only cause of hypertension. Sometimes when we check people’s blood pressure and it is high, they look puzzled and say things like, “but I am not under stress, I don’t over think”. Due to this belief, people do not check their blood pressures regularly, because they feel that as long as they do not over think things or as long as they are not under stress they can never develop it.
2: My health is my doctor’s concern. They may not come out right and say this, but you can see it in their actions. Some people have no idea what is happening with their health. They don’t even know the name of the condition they have or even the drugs they are taking. Most doctors are overwhelmed with work, they cannot cater for themselves and you too. You need to be more involved with your health.
3: My neighbor, my pharmacist. I have lost count of the number of times people have asked for drugs just because their neighbor, their friend or their relatives told them that that drug worked for them. People take medical advice from people who have no degree or background in medicine. And sometimes they would even ignore the counsel of actual professionals.
4: If I can still move around, just ignore it. This is our own version of, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. We tend to ignore the symptoms that our bodies give us until we are completely overwhelmed by it. So many complications and even deaths could have been prevented if the person just report it on time. Even if it is nothing, speak to someone. I have seen people that would develop full blown malaria where they cannot even move and they’ll say things like, “it has been giving me signs since”. Then why didn’t you listen? We need to move beyond this and even practice preventive medicine.
5: Every headache and body pain I feel must be malaria. I know we are a malaria endemic country. Most of the cases we see are usually malaria, but not all of them. Some diseases disguise themselves as malaria, whilst being something more complicated, or even something simple. An easy test would reveal the truth. We need to reduce the blind treatments we do for these conditions. They are causing drug resistance that we are not able to keep up with. Let us not default to treating every malaria like symptom as malaria, let’s test first.
These are some of the counterproductive beliefs I have encountered in my practice. I hope that you will begin to question some of the belief that you have that are affecting your health negatively today.