Time flies. I can’t believe it’s already fifth week into the semester.
Our task this week was to identify a social issue that needs to be addressed in my community. Assuming we’re launching the campaign, what would be the: 1) purpose; 2) focus; and 3) the rationale of the focus.
Social Marketing works with behaviour-change, applying marketing strategies for a purposive and sustainable desirable change in communities/groups. From my end, ‘public health’ has always been a pressing issue in developing and underdeveloped countries. We have malnutrition, disease-outbreak, inadequate maternal-and-child care, HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancer, improper personal hygiene, food contamination, to name a few. Then there’s another silent killer that really just blows up in our faces when someone we know, who’s young and did not ever show any signs of discomfort, dies of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
I checked Lao PDR’s health profile from WHO and found out that most deaths are caused by communicable diseases, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions; 48% of all deaths in Lao PDR are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs), 24% of which accounts for CVDs. It also revealed that most NCDs are caused by smoking and physical inactivity.
I have only seen and viewed communication materials in clinics and hospitals (there aren’t a lot of them) about Avian Flu and Breastfeeding. However, non-visibility does not mean non-existence of a potential problem. And there are far more health problems that should be addressed. Based from WHO’s health profile, when the respondents were asked if there are any integrated or topic-specific policies/programme/action plan which is currently operating for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as CVDs, diabetes, cancer, among others, most of the answer was “don’t know.”
Something tells me that ‘don’t know’ won’t cut it; either it implies that the people do not care about their heart-situation, or the campaigns for them are not visible, if not at all non-existent. According to WHO, CVDs are the number one leading cause of death globally; more men and women are affected by CVDs than cancer and HIV/AIDS combined (StopCardiacArrest.org). Low and middle-income countries are mostly affected with 80% of CVD-related deaths occurring in the aforementioned areas. If nothing changes in matters of the heart, it is projected that by 2030, 23.6 million people will die from CVDs, mainly from heart disease and stroke.
Most CVD-related deaths are abrupt; I think what hurts the most when somebody dies, especially those we love because of cardiac arrest/heart attack/stroke, is that we didn’t even see it coming. We were not able to do anything about it. We were not able to save them.
But the most effective way of dealing with CVDs is prevention—health screening, for that matter. I am not taking about launching a massive campaign on the fight against CVDs since the country prioritizes other aspects of public health, but at least hospitals, clinics, and doctors should highlight the importance of getting a screening such as checking blood sugar levels, cholesterol, weight, blood pressure, and other tests that could be indicative of an ailment.
This is a call for the country to be health-conscious, and to take responsibility in taking care of our hearts–not only for ourselves but for those who care about us. A campaign on raising awareness on CVDs and the importance of a health screening is not only a preventive measure but it would instill behavior to get medical check-ups annually in maintaining good health. This campaign could also launch free check-up for the disadvantaged members of the community to address their medical needs–at least some.