Health promotion and disease prevention programmes focus on keeping people healthy. “Wellness” elevates health promotion and disease prevention to a state of complete physical and mental well-being. Wellness is described as the attitude and active decision made by an individual that contribute to positive health behaviours and outcomes. According to the WHO, ‘health is not merely the absence of disease but a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being’. Health promotion is “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health”. Environment and right lifestyle play an important role in keeping people healthy. Tragically, one in six of all deaths worldwide are caused by pollution, and the vast majority occur in developing countries.
In December 2017 a test cricket match between Sri Lanka and India had to be stopped several times as Sri Lankan players complained of breathing difficulties while some also vomited on the ground due to “poor air quality” in Delhi. Despite being the capital of India the quality of air in Delhi is far below international standards — which unfortunately is also true of so many Indian cities. The level of pollutants in the air, including toxic gases and particulate matter, is high enough to pose health hazards, especially for persons in the vulnerable age groups — children and the elderly.
Another concern we have is the emergence of lifestyle-related diseases. Obesity is a recognised health risk in developed countries. In developing countries diabetes, another lifestyle disease, is fast emerging as a major health concern and assuming epidemic status.
Effective communication is understood and proven as a useful and cost effective tool for addressing public health problems. It is time we plan new strategies to promote wellness as a life changing philosophy. Many Rotary clubs periodically organise medical camps. In addition to these camps, Rotary clubs should also plan and promote communication strategies including public service announcements, health promotional programmes, mass media campaigns and newsletters. Let clubs motivate Rotaractors, Interactors and RCC members to spread the message amongst their communities that they can improve their health and the quality of life by making even moderate physical activity a part of their daily lives. WHO refers to “social determinants” as the economic, social, cultural and political conditions in which people are born, grow and live that affect health status. By including wellness-related health promotion and disease prevention programmes in their medical camps, clubs can also address these
A report jointly prepared by the WHO and World Economic Forum says that India will incur an accumulated loss of several thousand billion rupees in future on account of unhealthy lifestyles and faulty diets, unless preventive steps are taken now.
It is the right time to promote wellness programmes to improve the quality of life by healthy living both physically and mentally. This will be the real service and true inspiration to the community around us. Be the Inspiration.
Director, Rotary International