• August 6th, 2020

Opinion: ‘Communities make the difference’

The above is the theme for the World Aids Day 01 December 2019 commemoration. It runs on the precept that the successful reduction of HIV/AIDS infection and the wellbeing of the already infected is dependent on the active and positive involvement of any subject community. This line of thought holds ground not just for HIV/AIDS but for all illnesses facing the everyday Namibian.

Modern Western thinking about health has been dominated by the biomedical approach but there is much more to a person’s health than their physical health. Health is multi-dimensional and is influenced by many factors. It must be noted that the health of a person can be directly affected by the following series of relationships: home life, the village, the nation, genetics, and our relationship with the Earth. 

Most of the illnesses plaguing the nation could have a significant turnaround and recovery if the community began active means to ensure that those affected are given the requisite help needed.
Our papers show an increase in many maladies – some conspicuous; others not so. But these that are prevalent have a lot to do with the community.

Obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure are lifestyle diseases. They are proliferated, as we still see being “chubby” as a sign of being wealthy and healthy. Any loss of weight in a person is seen as a sign of illness or abject poverty. For this reason, the subject of healthy eating for nutritional gain is not passed onto the youth and as is evidenced, there is prevalence of the aforementioned diseases in even younger persons.

HIV/AIDS still receives a lot of stigma in the community. People speak about infected relatives and neighbours in hushed tones. The community does not embrace this and uses this as an opportunity to educate the youth and other adults on the dangers and risky actions that cause infection. This also applies to the scourge of teenage pregnancy. Young ladies who have been impregnated are mocked and forced into hiding. They are not given an opportunity to learn from those “who have gone before” on the dangers and impact of having sex without protection. Young men are allowed to view catcalling as manly activity and even seen by the community in some cases as a necessary evil.

Mental illness is an ever-growing problem; our communities still write off such illnesses as witchcraft or being silly. Suicide and depression are tagged as being weak or cowardly. As the community does not address these matters with a unified aim of reducing and developing initiatives to treat such, these incidences are on the rise.

In essence, the community, galvanised together with the aim of growth and development, can build the necessary societal infrastructure that ensures illnesses as listed above are tackled efficiently and managed in an appropriate manner. The African ideology revolves around Ubuntu: You are because I am.
This should resonate in all of us, so that we, in our respective communities ensure the health of those around is sustained by our input.

* Reverend Jan. A. Scholtz is a holder of Diploma in Theology, B-Theo (SA), a Diploma in Youth Work and Development from the University of Zambia (UNZA), Diploma in Education III (KOK) and a BA (HED) from UNISA
(This article is written in his personal capacity).

Staff Reporter
2019-11-29 09:02:13 | 8 months ago

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