Health Promotion is the process of motivating people and empowering communities to adapt lifestyle and behavioural changes to improve their health. This process involves various interventions to reach individuals, high-risk groups, communities, health sectors and law makers to engage in adapting behaviours relative to improved health and wellness.
Disease Prevention concentrates on ways or strategies to lessen the risk of growing continual illnesses and other incidence of morbidities. It consists of different levels of prevention that involves measures to eradicate diseases, diagnose diseases, learn the causal factors and signs to look after, treatment, rehabilitation and reduction of disability to live a normal lifestyle as possible.
Health promotion and disease prevention addresses different health determinants (personal, social, environmental, & economic factors) that affect health status which changes manageable risk behaviours.
There are different approaches for health promotion that aims to improve health by bringing change in an individual’s health perspective and that of the community. These are: 1) Medical, 2) Lifestyle & Behavioural, 3) Social/Political 4) Environmental, 5) Educational & Empowerment. An attempt to change health perspective amongst individual is by communicating messages that is relevant to them. For a positive change to arise, people should understand why an area of concern is significant and that the practices different from their current ones need to be pursued.
I. Initiatives for Disease Prevention – (Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Prevention)
- Primary Prevention
It focuses on preventing the onset of the diseases. That means minimizing exposure to hazards and increase immunity/resistance to diseases that can affect an individual’s health. Of all the disease prevention levels, primary prevention targets larger populations.
Health campaigns, encouraging children with regular tooth brushing to avoid tooth decay, improving physical activities, mass media campaigns. Increasing knowledge through education. Promote lifestyle changes. Mandating health policies (use of personal protective equipment, no smoking, liquor ban). Immunization programs. Health programs for high-risk groups (Maori, youth, children under five years, non-immune migrants). Handwashing to avoid contamination.
- Secondary Prevention/Early Detection
It aims to detect diseases before any manifestations and early treatment to control the progress of the disease. Hence, reduce complications and preventing relapse. Interventions include early diagnosis through screening and teaching people early signs of disease and what symptoms to watch for.
Regular GP visits, routine blood sugar monitoring, screening tests (Pap Smear, Newborn Screening, HIV, Blood tests, Colonoscopy, Mammography), chemoprophylaxis to prevent infection (administering antibiotics)
- Tertiary Prevention
It is concerned on rehabilitation and reduce disability for re/irreversible conditions and late stage diseases. The goal of tertiary prevention is to improve a person’s quality of life, providing comfort, and reduce suffering.
Physical therapy, Cardiac rehabilitation following heart surgery (Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG), stroke rehabilitation, follow-up examinations to identify metastasis, support groups, hospice care, palliative care. Continuous research for better treatment.
II. Initiatives for Health Promotion – Approaches (Medical, Lifestyle & Behavioural, Social/Political, Environmental, Educational & Empowerment)
- Lifestyle & Behavioural Approach
It aims to influence high risk people of developing sedentary lifestyle to adapt healthy lifestyle to improve health. This approach implies that each individual is responsible for their health.
Health promotions about proper nutrition, adequate rest, increase physical activity. Smoking and substance cessation programs. Mass media campaigns. Community centres providing various physical activity programs open to locals
- Educational & Empowerment Approach
It provides people thorough information and hones their decision making skills to choose healthy living. With greater understanding of importance of health comes change in attitude followed by a change in behavior.
Providing education material of cause and effects of health behaviours, counseling, group discussions, health related videos, health promotion in school setting
- Social/Political Approach
It targets group of people or community rather than individuals. It requires support from the policy makers to formulate and implement policies to promote health. The commitment of the government to promote health policies will engage the people in the implementation of the said policies.
No smoking policy in public areas, within school, hospital, and work premises. Increasing tax on cigarettes/tobacco and alcoholic beverages. Anti-smoking media advertisements. Designate areas where cigarettes can be sold and a policy against sales to minors. Government subsidies on Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Food labels on imported products. The need for GP prescription for access on use of certain medications.
Disease prevention compliments health promotion efforts. Prevention is more efficient and cost effective rather than treatment. Health promotion provides people increase knowledge and understanding of the significance of taking control over their health to improve wellness. When diseases are prevented, it results to prolonged longevity of life. There will be increase independence with care, less reliance to long-term treatment, less hospitalization which means less healthcare expenditure. By choosing to address on the underlying health determinants the health problems can be lessened. Morbidity and mortality can be minimized by modifying risk factors. There is a link between people and its environment, working together as a society has a greater impact on health. Health promotion is a shared responsibility to contribute on health changes to live a purposeful and enjoyable life for everyone.
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