9 Must-Know Food Safety Rules to Keep Your Food Safe
Whether you cook meals for your family on the regular or make your first steps in the kitchen, food safety is an issue you should never ignore. From the germs crawling on the raw meat you just bought to the bacteria that hibernate on the veggies that lie deep inside your freezer, pathogens are all around us, waiting to wreak havoc on our gut from the very first bite. So, to avoid any food-borne diseases that could arise (and in honor of World Food Service Safety Month(1)), we rounded out nine food safety rules that you should always keep in mind. It turns out that washing our hands is just the beginning!
1. Cool Leftovers Before Storing Them
Chances are you've stored hot food in the fridge or freezer more times than you can count. While it's not the end of the world if you did, it's probably best to avoid doing that from now on for one main reason. Putting hot food in the fridge or freezer causes nearby food items to partially thaw and refreeze, which could be a health hazard. So, make sure your food is completely cool before you store it.
2. Thaw Foods Properly
Even though there are multiple ways to thaw food safely, defrosting isn’t actually a strong suit for many. But, it’s an easily acquired skill. So, to avoid microbes festering on your soon-to-be-consumed food, just practice the following rules:
• In the refrigerator
If the refrigerator is your thawing method of choice, place the frozen food in a container so that the juices don't touch other foods as they defrost. Also, know that one pound of frozen food takes 4-5 hours to thaw. So, plan accordingly.
• In cold water
If this is your thawing option, change the water every 30 minutes. Also note that it takes about half an hour for every pound of food to defrost. Opt for this method if you plan on cooking the food as soon as it's thawed.
• In the microwave
Most microwaves come with a particular defrosting setting. So, make sure you thaw your food according to the brand's instructions. Also, remember that this option is only safe if you plan on cooking the food immediately after thawing.
3. Keep an Eye Out for the Expiration Dates
Always look out for the dates written on the products you buy or have in store at home. Specifically, keep an eye out for the expiration date. If there's one food safety rule that you should live by is never to consume anything that's past this date.
Also, scan the product for its "best used by" date. This indication shows just how long a product can retain its peak freshness. Knowing this date will help you manage your pantry staples more efficiently and get the most out of them, both nutritionally and in terms of flavor.
4. Reheat Foods Properly
Reheating leftovers may seem like a menial task. But, truth be told, one wrong move and the microbes left behind during storage can multiply and cause food poisoning. To avoid such a bad-case scenario, make sure to reheat your food until it reaches 165◦F throughout. So, stir your leftovers frequently to distribute the heat evenly (especially if you're using the microwave). Also, never reheat your leftovers more than once.
5. Wash Hands Frequently
This is by far the easiest and most effective way to prevent germs from spreading. Washing your hands thoroughly before you handle your food can eliminate the bacteria you may carry, so they don't come into direct contact with your food. Warm, soapy water can also work wonders as it helps eliminate germs even faster. Also, don't forget to wash your hands after handling raw foods like eggs, fish, meat, and poultry, as they usually carry many pathogens that could spread to (and contaminate) other foods or items.
6. Keep Kitchen Surfaces Clean
Another easy way to keep your food safe is always having a clean kitchen. Make a habit out of disinfecting your kitchen every time a surface (i.e., counter, cutting board, etc.) comes into contact with raw food. This way, you'll prevent any germ cross-contamination between foods.
You can even turn kitchen cleaning into a fun family activity by encouraging kids to be part of this routine. Specifically, you can encourage them to identify the most common cross-contamination points in the kitchen (think door knobs, kitchen cabinets, light switch, etc.) and challenge them to keep them clean throughout the day by wiping the surfaces before they leave the room.
7. Separate Raw & Cooked Food
A common food safety tip that you should always keep in mind is to keep raw and cooked foods separate. In fact, you should never use the same surfaces or tools to handle raw and cooked food so that you avoid cross-contamination. Imagine chopping a piece of raw poultry on a chopping board and using the same board to slice the meat once it's cooked. All the microbes from the raw poultry will be transferred to the cooked meat due to the direct surface contact, and chances are you'll have a batch of food that's swarming with harmful microorganisms. The same principle applies to storage. So, ensure that raw and cooked food will never share the same space in your fridge.
8. Protect Food from Insects and Rodents
Animals like insects and small rodents carry all sorts of pathogens and can easily contaminate your food if they come into direct contact with it. So, make sure your fruits, veggies, or grains (fresh or freeze dried) are stored in air-tight containers, quart jars, or with moisture-absorbent packets.
9. Get the Heat Right
An essential part of cooking is ensuring the food you roast, bake, or fry reaches a high enough internal temperature to eliminate all pathogens before consumption. The only caveat is that this temperature is different for every food, and it can be a handful to remember each one by heart. Luckily, you can check this list(2) for more details on each fare.
An easy way to know whether your food has reached the recommended internal temperature is to invest in a cooking thermometer. This gadget will help you measure the temperature accurately, depending on your cooking style or goal (rare, medium, well done).
What are your go-to food safety tips? Let us know in the comments down below!
November is National Diabetes Month
National Diabetes Month is observed in November every year in the U.S. The 2019 theme by the National Diabetes Education Program is “Take Diabetes to Heart,” with the partnership with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the idea is to focus on the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
This year’s theme raises the awareness of the possibility of developing heart disease for diabetes patients. 1 People with diabetes are twice likely to die from heart disease, stroke, or a heart attack than those without diabetes. Consistently high blood glucose levels over time damage your blood vessels and nerves controlling the heart functions.2
The Prevalence of Diabetes
Did you know that one out of 10 Americans have diabetes? That’s a whopping 30 million people. Another 84 million people have a high chance of developing type 2 diabetes.3 Diabetes causes more than 76,000 deaths every year and is the 7th leading cause of death in America.1
It is a chronic disease with severe consequences even when it is not fatal, as about 12 million people report to the ER every year due to complications that it causes, such as blindness, nerve damage, and kidney, and heart problems.2 The worst thing about diabetes is that more than half of people with diabetes are unaware and have not been diagnosed. This leaves them vulnerable to the gradual degradation of their health due to high levels of sugar in their blood. 3
History of the National Diabetes Month
Since diabetes tends to be overlooked, the National Diabetes Education Program named November as the National Diabetes Month. The event has been commemorated every year since 1975. The month is dedicated to promoting awareness of diabetes to the public.
The reason behind designating November as the National Diabetes Month is to increase your awareness on better ways of managing diabetes and lowering chances of being a stroke or a heart patient.
How to reduce your chances of having cardiovascular diseases if you have diabetes
- Have regular tests on your A1C, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. Work with your doctor on how to manage them to the correct levels.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Follow a healthy eating plan, and plan a regular exercise routine.
- Look for activities that will help manage your stress levels. Examples include: walking, running, practicing yoga, gardening, or even listening to your favorite music.
- Follow all the instructions given by your doctor concerning medications.
- Stop smoking or avoid the use of other tobacco products. If you’re struggling with addiction, seek help in rehabilitation centers.
Importance of having a National Diabetes Month
Managing diabetes is not easy. Awareness is vital in managing diabetes and preventing many other secondary life-changing events that diabetes causes, such as heart attacks, amputations, stroke, kidney-related problems, and vision loss.
Every year the chosen theme seeks to create awareness that diabetes can is manageable. Type I diabetes has no cure, but you can maintain healthy blood sugar levels and have a healthy lifestyle. Type II diabetes patients can potentially restrain it through proper diet and exercise. Even though they may still need medication, they may need far less if they take adequate care of themselves.
Taking part in November Diabetes Month brings you to the reality of being in a community with millions of other diabetics. Following on the previous year’s Diabetes Month, you will notice the encouragement from the various themes. Every theme is a reminder that proper nutrition is the primary way of managing diabetes, and it is a constant reminder that to avoid Type II diabetes, you need to maintain a healthy weight.
The good news is that type II diabetes can is preventable by making lifestyle changes such as:
- Healthy eating: health care workers should encourage people to eat healthy by making them understand the benefits of healthy eating and having a regular exercise routine.
- Getting regular checkups: checking blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
- Making small changes: being active by taking the stairs and skip the elevator.
- Losing weight.
Spreading Awareness of the National Diabetes Month
The National Diabetes Education Program holds events and provides resources for those who want to educate others about diabetes on their website. The website has useful posts that can help to publicize the National Diabetes Month on social media. You can get other valuable tools, such as: free posters with cover images for Facebook and Twitter, predesigned posters, flyers, and announcements through the radio or television. The website also has webinars and videos with useful links to educative resources about diabetes. The resources are freely accessible and do not have copyright restrictions for health care professionals or people who seek to use it to educate their communities.
The events run throughout the month to create a diabetics support network. The organizers will always make sure everyone who handles the patients is involved, because they are more aware of the challenges each patient face on a personal level.
Another main recommendation is that people with diabetes assemble a support group that will stand with them as they fight the disease. The support network is to make the work of health professionals easy when handling patients.
If you do not have diabetes, you are encouraged to be part of a support network that shares fact sheets on supporting patients and their family members. They also help diabetic students go through the challenges posed by diabetes in their student life and prepare a guide that makes you be a champion who reaches to a broader community on educating people about diabetes.
Although the National Diabetes Month is in November, it is essential to take care of your health all year long to reduce your risk and spread information on anything related to diabetes to others. With the right support and understanding from the community, managing diabetes is easier. Diabetes management is a daily challenge but worth the effort.
How to Show Your Support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Ah, October! The 1 month of the year when apples are cooler than any other autumn produce and Halloween treats have a nutritional hall pass. Of course, that's just one side of the story. If you take a look around, you'll also see that everything (from your TV screen to billboards) is flooded with bright pink ads and images, reminding us that October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So, if you're ready to do your part and increase awareness for the generations to come, here are 6 easy ways to support the cause.
What is Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an international health campaign that aims to increase awareness and educate people on breast cancer. Affecting both men and women (but mostly women), the disease accounts for more than 40,000 deaths each year (1). To put these numbers into perspective, just think that 1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in her life.
The good news is that despite its aggressive nature, breast cancer is preventable, especially during its early stages - and that's where Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes in. The charities and organizations involved make a legit effort to raise funds for in-depth research and a potential cure (even though there are still huge steps that need to be made). So, if you want to be part of something this big and protect yourself and everyone you love in the process, here's what you can do to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
6 Ways to Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month
1. Educate Yourself
Not to scare anyone here, but experts (2) suggest that even though cancer mortality rates are declining in people between the ages of 20 and 49, breast cancer is still going strong. In part, that's because many people are still not educated on the diagnosis and early treatment of the disease. After all, women under the age of 40 and the majority of guys don't get regular mammograms, and they have to rely on "manual examinations" for any malicious signs.
So, one of the first things you can do to increase awareness on breast cancer is to educate yourself. From learning how to check yourself through infographics(3) to getting schooled on all the facts (from the symptoms to the socio-economic factors involved), there are many ways to know exactly what to do to prevent the disease.
It's also worth mentioning that for years now, breast cancer was considered a population-centric problem, with white women being the center of attention. These days, experts make a genuine effort to educate us on how the disease isn't just a threat for white women, but for every group out there, including women of color (4) and guys (5).
2. Check in with Your Doctor
While monthly self-exams are an easy way to check for breast abnormalities such as lumps, swelling, and nipple discharge, visiting with your doctor could also help in early detection. After all, there are cases when such signs don't make an appearance, but the disease is well underway.
With that in mind, make sure you get regular (annual) mammograms, especially if you're at or above the age of 40. If you're younger than that, chances are your doctor won't recommend a mammogram, unless you detect something really worrisome during your self-exams. Of course, if you're at a high-risk group (say, if your breast tissue is really dense or if your family has a history of breast cancer), you should consult with him/her about early screenings.
3. Live & Breathe Pink
One of the easiest ways to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to think pink. From wearing the now famous pink ribbon all month long to making casual pink Friday a thing, there are endless ways to spread awareness on the cause. You can even hand out lapel pins on Pink Ribbon Day (October 24th, by the way) and have everyone at your work sport one throughout the day.
But, since we're big foodies around here, we have another tastier suggestion for embracing the all-pink movement: eat all the pink food you can get! Of course, that doesn't mean you should indulge in every cute, sugary treat that crosses your path because come November, your waist will hate you. Instead, stock up on a bunch of healthy pink goodies like these freeze dried raspberries or these whole strawberries. Fighting breast cancer never tasted better!!
4. Harness the Power of Social Media
Putting on a pink ribbon on your chest and hoping someone will see it is one way to get the word out. But, if you really want to make an impact and reach out to hundreds of people in one go, there's no better place to start than your social media accounts.
From Twitter to Instagram to Facebook, you can dedicate a heartfelt post to all breast cancers survivors out there and end it with a cause-driven hashtag or cute pink ribbon emoji. You can even join thousands of likeminded folks and help raise money by downloading apps, joining groups or participating in online campaigns.
Don't know where to start? Here's a short list of a few campaigns that are worth your follow:
Another easy way to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to volunteer. In fact, if you're a sociable person with excellent communication skills, this is hands down the best way to get the word out. So, choose a campaign that's close to your heart, and make it your mission to spend time as much time on it as possible. And if you're wondering, there are countless volunteer opportunities out there, from becoming a mentor (if you're a breast cancer survivor) to cutting your hair for wigs. In some cases, you may be asked to prepare and execute certain events such as races and bake sales. Sounds fun, right?
If you want to help out the cause but lack time to spend on event planning, you could always make a financial donation to a campaign of your choice. That said: pick a charity that makes sense to you, and donate as much as you can. Don't forget that you don't have to go big; if you can't as small contributions can also make a difference. Of course, if you want to max out your donation, make sure you buy products that give 100% of their proceeds to respective charities.
So, how are you going to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Any special plans? Let us know in the comments down below!
National Immunization Month: Why We Shouldn't Take Our Health For Granted
August is finally here! And even though BBQs and all those short trips to the beach have brought out the free spirit in us, we can't help thinking that autumn is a month away. Autumn is back-to-school season – which practically means the common flu, as well as several other diseases and viruses, will be back in business before we know it.
It seems like a stretch, but thinking ahead never hurt anyone, especially if you consider there's an uptick in outbreaks in the recent years. In fact, CDC reports that in the last decade several otherwise preventable diseases (see: measles(1) and mumps(2)) are on the rise. The reason? The higher vaccine exemption rates. If you want to keep you and your closed ones safe this winter, National Immunization Month is the perfect place to start.
What Is “National Immunization Month”?
Held throughout August, National Immunization Month(3) (NIAM) is an annual observance that highlights the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. That includes everyone from infants, children, and teens to young adults, pregnant women, and golden-agers. The goal of this health campaign is to raise awareness on all issues surrounding immunization: from how we can nip all those preventable diseases in the bud to the benefits of timely vaccination.
So, during this month, major health agencies, such as the CDC and AARC, are teaming up to educate folks around the country on efficient immunization, including which vaccines they or their kids should get ASAP and the potential risks of non-vaccination. All these occur through the use of several helpful resources (guides and assessment tools) which focus on the individual's needs.
What's The Deal With Vaccination These Days
Of course, before we talk more about how you can make the most out of this year's NIAM, we first need to understand why getting vaccinated is so important. The anti-vaccine movement(4) continues to gain momentum, even though the overall vaccine rates are going up. With that in mind, it's no surprise that the percentage of non-vaccinated kids has almost quadrupled(5) since the beginning of the millennia.
Sure, financial hardships and the lack of geographic access to health centers(6) could be a couple of reasons why more and more families are skipping their vaccine appointments. But, if we look at the actual data, we'll see that urban and rural populations show -more or less- comparable declines, and that's especially evident in states where vaccine exemptions run rampant(7).
In fact, one study shows that in states where non-vaccination is banned – such as Mississippi, West Virginia, and California – the populations have the lowest rates of outbreaks across the US. These findings clearly suggest that the uptick in vaccine-preventable diseases is mainly driven by the high levels of unimmunized kids.
But, if unvaccinated kids are the main reason behind all those county-level disease outbreaks, why do parents opt out of vaccination in the first place? Well, for one, many parents refuse to get the shots due to their religious and philosophical beliefs.
Fear: The Psychological Component
But, that's not the only reason. False fears regarding vaccination's side effects (see: autism, encephalitis, and other severe neurological disorders) also play a massive role in parents not wanting their kids to get vaccinated – even though this theory has been debunked(8) over and over again(9). And the weirdest part? Most of these parents(10) are actually white, English speaking, college educated, and covered by private health insurance. Of course, to be fair, such medical exemptions account for less than 5% of the general population(11), which isn't as high as many people think.
But, still, we shouldn't ignore these statistics (no matter how small they are) since the decision to skip vaccination could impact herd immunity. What's that supposed to mean? It means that even if a large portion of a city's population is vaccinated, the community's resistance to the spread of a disease is still low. That's what leads to the re-appearance of several preventable diseases, like measles and chickenpox.
In their turn, such diseases could result in several lifelong health issues, especially among the most vulnerable members of a community such as the elderly, pregnant women, and children. Some of the most severe side effects of low herd immunity include stillbirths, asthma, and paralysis.
A Regression in Modern Medicine - The Facts
It's a fact: More and more people jump on the non-vaccination bandwagon. But, what's also a fact is that outbreaks spring up like crazy these days. Don't believe us? Check out these facts.
The Disney Outbreak
In 2014 and 2015, more than 120 people were infected with measles after visiting the Disney theme parks, in Orange County, California. According to the CDC(12), almost half of them (45%) were not vaccinated against the disease. More than that, 43% of them had an unknown or undocumented vaccination status, which means they may have skipped their shot appointments at some point. In other words, people who weren't vaccinated against measles managed to contract the disease to those who were. And this is why this case is the perfect example of how low herd immunity could impact the overall community (yes, even those who are vaccinated).
The North Carolina School Outbreak
Not long ago, in 2018, a private school in North Carolina made the news when it reportedly served as ground zero for a small-scale chickenpox outbreak. According to CNN(13), medical exemption was a contributing factor, in this case, proving once again that non-vaccination and herd immunity don't mix.
Your Action Plan
But, what can you do to lower the spread of all these preventable yet potentially deadly diseases? Well, we all know that prevention is better than the cure, and since the World Health Organization has now ranked “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the top 10 global health emergencies, it's high time we stopped waiting around for a virus to knock on our door and take advantage of National Immunization Month. So, starting this August, make sure you book an appointment with your go-to physician and find out which diseases you should get vaccinated against.
Oh, and one more thing: While vaccination is the cornerstone of herd immunity, you could always add an extra “layer of protection” between you and viruses by loading up on nutrients. These nine winter veggies and fruits can help you build up a robust immune system that's slightly more resistant against diseases.
And if you don't have time to go grocery shopping and cook dinner every day, our dehydrated and freeze dried products are the easiest way to sneak all the right veggies and fruits into your meals with minimum effort.
So, what do you think? Will you get vaccinated during National Immunization Month? Please, share your thoughts in the comments down below!
Dairy if You Do; Dairy if You Don’t
My name is Lauren, and I work with Mother Earth Products. I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), multiple food sensitivities, food intolerances (gluten and lactose), and arthritis in my knees. I’ve experienced inflammation, constipation, weight retention, and inflation (of my digestive system).
I work with a functional naturopathic nutritionist to heal my gut, bloating, hormones, and to get some traction on feeling better. I follow a Gut Friendly Diet, which removes the most common inflammatory foods from the diet. I am currently living this lifestyle (it’s been tweaked several times based on what my body needs). Since the “Foods to Avoid” list can be long, I’m giving you my personal top 5. This is the second month that I’ve been sharing, and I am excited about tell you all about the second food to avoid.
Studies show that dairy is linked to digestion issues (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation), mucous overproduction, and brain fog even for those who don’t necessarily have an intolerance. To be clear: a lactose intolerance (per Webmd.com) involves the digestive system, and involves not having the enzyme lactase to digest lactose (the sugar in milk); but a dairy allergy directly involves the immune system, causing allergic symptoms: rashes, wheezing, hives, trouble swallowing, tightness in throat, swelling of lips and face (often), trouble breathing, loss of consciousness, etc.
Lactose intolerance, according to webmd.com, is common among adults. Nearly 30 million Americans have it BY age 20, but it’s more common in those with Asian, African, or Native American heritage. Also, you’re more likely to have it if you have a relative has it, like a mother or grandmother (my case). If you notice a pattern of what you’re eating - and I did when I drank milk, ate ice cream, and had milkshakes – and how your symptoms are showing up afterward (it could be a runny nose, hacking/ productive cough, diarrhea, constipation, brain fog), I recommend you head to your PCP, to get a reference to get yourself tested by a gastroenterologist to see if you have either a dairy allergy or a lactose intolerance.
This doesn’t mean you stop eating cereal (unless the cereal has gluten, like Month 1 talks about) with milk, but change up your milks, and stay away from cow’s milk and cheese. These days, it’s easy to find a good milk substitute (hemp, almond, cashew, coconut [my favorite], etc. I do not recommend soy), and dairy-free/ vegan cheese has come a long way!
Some people don’t even like the taste of the alternative milks, and go straight to the Lactaid type milk. Some will cut it all out forever, no substitutions. Whatever your case may be, and whatever your diet or cravings may be, I heartily recommend you try a few different milks, like in your smoothies (with our sliced strawberries or blueberries) or coffee, and settle on one or two that meets your needs and tantalizes your palate.
Finding a milk can be fun and experimental, and you can also find different recipes, easily, that you can incorporate your newfound milk into.
The other night, I used coconut milk in an Almond Butter Curry Stew, along with our dried chickpeas, dried sliced garlic, dried carrots, dried zucchini, dried bell peppers, and dried chopped onions. I use coconut milk in my smoothies, and when I drank coffee, I used aerated coconut milk. I have also used almond milk in bread recipes, and you can even get coconut milk, soy milk (which I do not recommend), and almond milk in your coffee drinks at most coffee shops now.
Come back next month for the third item I highly recommend you remove from your diet.
“Food is the most important part of a balanced diet.” – Fran Lebowitz
World Health Day Could Be The Excuse You Needed to Care For Your Health
Living life in the 21st century kinda sucks! From the dysfunctional relationships we've developed with our phones to the air we breathe (shocker, it's polluted!(1)), it often seems like the whole world is out to make us weaker by the day - both physically and mentally. What's worse, diseases that didn't exist a few decades ago (such as Ebola(2), the Zika virus(3), and even anorexia(4)) are making headlines due to their increasingly threatening nature, which means our health is on the line 24/7, especially if we're not careful.
But, the real question behind all these is: Why are we really in danger? Isn't public health a human right? More than that, don't we have a series of top-tier prevention and treatment methods at our disposal to cure what ails us? While the answer to these questions should be a profound “YES,” it's worth mentioning that almost half of the world's population has no access to the public health system; so, it looks like being healthy isn't always a given.
Specifically, according to the World Health Organization(5) (WHO), half of the people in the world don't receive the health services they need,which is shocking considering we live in an era of artificial intelligence. That's why it's time we embraced World Health Day and made such issues a thing of the past.
What is World Health Day?
Celebrated annually on April 7th, World Health Day(6) is a global initiative that aims to raise awareness on certain topics regarding health and longevity. Specifically, WHO and several other health organizations sponsor this series of events in an attempt to improve the quality of our lives any way they can, from informing people on how to eat, live, and exercise (among others) to influencing policy makers into changing the health system for the better.
So, on this day, the organizations involved in this initiative orchestrate a bunch of activities - conferences for health workers, educational meetings for young people, teenagers and kids and briefings for local politicians - in an attempt to inform everyone about the current status of the global health system. In some cases, they even set up easy access points where people can get tested for free.
Since 1995, the decision makers behind the celebration adopted a theme-centric approach to increase the celebration's dynamic. Each year, they pick a new theme to highlight as the year's priority area of concern. Some of the most important themes discussed in years prior include the “Emerging Infectious Diseases” in 1997, “Safe Motherhood” in 1998, “Antimicrobial Resistance” in 2011, and “Healthy Blood Pressure” in 2013.
This year's theme is “Universal Health Coverage” which means that for 2019, WHO and all affiliate organizations want to make sure every person in the world has access to high quality health services without suffering financial hardship, even if they live in very secluded areas. With this in mind, we can't help but wonder: Isn't World Health Day changing everyone's lives for the better?
Sickness Doesn't Discriminate Against/For Region
While many may think that WHO's goal for 2019 is to help developing and under-developed countries improve their public health system, the organization's job doesn't just end there. Due to the recent global financial crisis, thousands of people in many Western countries are struggling to make ends meet, often at the expense of their health.
That means that diseases that would otherwise go extinct are still running rampant as our fellow citizens don't have access to treatment, either through a doctor visit or vaccination. As a result, several diseases - measles, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever - are making a comeback, especially in overcrowded countries like China.
What does that mean? Well, you may think that catching a fatal disease is more of a third world problem, but guess what? Sickness doesn't discriminate against/for certain regions – which is why raising awareness on an improved worldwide health system is certainly something we should all work on.
Local Problem Today, Global Problem Tomorrow
Another way in which World Health Day is changing our lives for the better is by reminding us once again that everyone and everything on this planet is somehow connected. What does this mean? Well, we'll let the case of Zika virus(7) do the talking here.
You see, experts report that the mosquito borne illness was first identified in Uganda, Africa sometime during the 1940s. That was a long time ago, wasn't it? Fast forwarding to today, the decades-old virus not only hasn't gone extinct, but it is still going strong, having made its way to Polynesia and Brazil (remember the latest outbreak?).
With that in mind, it's easy to assume that a more efficient health system on Africa's behalf could have prevented the virus from spreading in the first place. But, since that didn't happen (and it still doesn't in many parts of the world), more and more people get infected by the virus. Caring just for our local health system is pretty short sighted because what may seem like a distant issue at the moment could turn out to be a not-so-distant problem in the near future.
Raising the Stakes Here, Raising the Stakes Everywhere
This year's theme is also making waves by urging the entire global health system to change to the core. Specifically, WHO and the other organizations supporting the celebration want health workers (especially those active in challenging environments) to educate patients on how to promote their health and advocate for their medical needs.
In doing so, the entire system gets an instant makeover, which means the market becomes more competitive. More than that, such positive changes are bound to come full circle back to us one way or the other. So, to put it simply, improving the conditions one hospital or patient at a time could have a positive impact on the efficiency of the global health system, meaning we're doing ourselves a favor in the long-term.
So, what do you think? Is this a cause worth fighting for? If so, we'd love to hear how you're going to celebrate National Health Day.