Six weeks…

by ndubuisi edeoga

That’s how long it has been estimated that it takes to develop a new habit. Some will argue that it depend on how complex the habit pattern is…agreed. No matter how long it takes, the important thing is that we can change our habits if we work hard and long at it. Are we determined to make changes in the way we live? Are we determined to use what we have learned to improve the lives of our loved ones? Are we going to be better doctors, health practitioners, nurses? Are we going to wait for the health ministries, politicians and their ilk’s to bring the necessary changes that we need ..NO!

Nigeria doctors and health professional work under very difficult conditions, sometimes I wonder how people working in health care provision manage to make it through the day, no salaries, poor when they exist, inadequate continuing medical education when they exist, high patient load…which always exists. Despite all these hurdles we still need to continue changing out habits and indirectly changing the habits of our patients.

We will determine to make out more time to counsel our patients about the need to change their eating, exercise, and daily living habits. Studies have shown that patient compliance increase when health related advise comes from their physicians. We need to ask our patients to exercise more days in week, we need to talk to our patients about the need to be the vanguards of their health. Ask your patients to recite their blood pressure reading at every visit, ask your patients to tell you about their weight changes at every visit, ask about detailed smoking and drinking habits.

When you call your relatives in the village ask them if they know their blood pressure readings, if they answer no tell them to get it checked and get back to you. My uncle was telling me about his wonderful doctor and his blood pressure pills. He said that his doctor said his blood pressure was okay. True; reading for that office visit was 120/74mm of mercury. He continued so he now takes his medication “whenever he has a headache or feels somehow”. It took me some minutes of detailed talk to convince him that he should really be taking those medications daily. Of course when you ask him about compliance, yes he takes his medicine regularly, and believe me he is not lying either.
Due to economic situation in most families mother have to be away from their children longer than they would have loved, this has affected breastfeeding rates. Are we communicating the results of new studies showing that breastfeeding is still the best gift mother can give to their babies?. Are we encouraging largely ignored habits like effective hand washing, by explaining the link to diarrheal diseases?

It is important to share whatever knowledge that you have. As you give your relatives the western union, money gram codes, ask them their blood pressure readings, blood sugar reading, and weights in exchange. Let’s really see how long it takes to changes our habits.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

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