#Health and Hygiene

Lessons From Pandemic: How Holistic Healthcare is the Key Towards Prevention

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As India deals with the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and the elusive Omicron mutant, safeguarding our health has become more urgent than ever. Schools began to slowly open and accept students after the second wave, offices reopened to host their employees, and restaurants and theatres announced no restrictions on their seating capacities; India had begun to believe that the new normal really was, finally, normal. Holistic Healthcare

Although the general rules of living through a pandemic are still followed countrywide – rules such as wearing masks in public, social distancing, and avoiding going out if it wasn’t necessary – the constant rise in cases makes it crucial that our efforts be redoubled and reinforced to give us a fighting chance in this battle. More so when it comes to our country’s underprivileged communities.

In the years that we have been working in government schools and providing annual health check-ups, we noted that attendance levels in schools were continuing to drop, recurring conditions were observed each year, and that there was a general lack of understanding of preventative measures to combat common health problems. A big motivator for this behaviour is the lack of proper facilities in many schools, including suitable classrooms, clean drinking water, hygienic bathrooms, and handwash stations.

Why Is Holistic Healthcare Important?

A holistic approach focuses on prevention and wellness, rather than just treating symptoms and diseases. This entails a detailed and thorough identification of problems and innovative, sustainable solutions. But here’s the catch – the solutions must be long term. For instance, there need to be sustainable infrastructure on requirement, provision of clean drinking water, handwash stations and toilet facilities. The projects don’t end at the handing over of the facilities to the schools but rather go on to become daily maintenance interventions. Daily maintenance and regular deep cleaning and sanitisation facilities for the schools should include the cleaning of sump tanks and overhead tanks, and ensure that the school remains a clean, safe place for the students and the staff. Measures such as this help prevent several diseases and keep the institutions from becoming hubs for germs.

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The students themselves should be taught to be resilient and responsible for their health. This begins with awareness. The provision of preventative health awareness posters, workbooks and health kits containing hygiene items and masks inculcates interest in their own well-being. Reaching out to the students personally and detailing the healthy habits they should practice has proven to be effective in furthering our goals. Preventive healthcare has helped students to make consistent choices and take positive action towards their health, diet, and lifestyle.

As schools began to accept students back after the pandemic hit, enrolments went up by over 20%, making social distancing a huge challenge. In the Government Schools we were present in, it was heartening to see that the students had already geared up against the virus with a set of cultivated habits that protected them during the first and second wave. Schools should be equipped with temperature monitors, sanitizers, face shields and other such protective equipment to fight off any prevalence of the virus within the campus.

Another key aspect of healthcare is to maintain a strong immunity and ensure the body is provided with the nutrients it requires. According to WHO, better nutrition is related to improved health, stronger immune systems, lower risk of non-communicable diseases and longevity. These communities are crucially lacking in health services and therefore are far more likely to face disorders related to nutrition – such as anemia, stunted growth and malnourishment. There is an urgent necessity or proper nutrition plans to supplement the overall preventive health approach.

Staying active during times of quarantine and curfew are difficult but shouldn’t be forgotten. Regular physical activity can improve muscle strength, boost endurance, and regulate hormone levels – all of which effectively prevent major health issues. An active lifestyle is most definitely a healthy lifestyle, which establishes the need to instill curated sports programs in government schools.

Such an approach and set of interventions have been possible through the combined efforts of likeminded corporate partners and NGO partners, and has trebled the impact of the initiatives, compared to what would have been the outcome had it come from one sole contributor. Collaboration, and the creativity and innovation it spurs allows companies to go beyond their singular capabilities to benefit society from combined intelligence.

Community Outreach initiatives should be aimed at strengthening both body and mind. Projects like this not only help those in need, but also give us hope that if we stand united, we can achieve our ambitions of a stronger, healthier, and better community.

Shaina Ganapathy is the Head of Community Outreach at Embassy Group. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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