MRSA And Flu Pandemics Don’t Just Happen….
MRSA, nasty flu bugs and so on are not simply random events. People can help themselves. Public health and health education knowledge is never more important than when people are alarmed about health scare stories or the threat of epidemics.
It’s probably the years I spent battling as a teacher for proper Health Education in schools, but I’m always puzzled by the view that serious contagious illness ‘just happens’. It doesn’t. Believing that, say, MRSA or really nasty strains of flu are things we can do nothing about is a big mistake.
Of course anyone can be unlucky with any sort of ill-health. It would be very wrong indeed to suggest that we can all remain healthy by doing / eating / thinking the right things. If only….. But that doesn’t mean we have to be victims in our minds all the time.
Simple procedures, excellent results
MRSA, the super-bug found in hospitals, is a good example. When everyone remembers to keep things really clean, and to wash their hands every time they should, its prevalence falls significantly. The same applies to other infections.
Some maladies are caused by bacteria, and others by viruses. The ways they spread depend on whether they are passed from person to person by touching, coughing, just lying in wait, or whatever. But all these modes of transmission can be contained to greater or lesser degrees by good hygiene.
Which takes me back to my first point.
Education for health starts young
People currently enjoy on average longer and healthier lives than at any other time in history. But there was a period in the 1980s / 90s where public health, and related individual health matters, were very low on the agenda. Because of this there was very little interest in school health education.
Things have improved a lot in the past few years – Personal, Health and Social Education (PHSE) is now firmly embedded in the school curriculum. But one thing we all need to know, children, teenagers or adults of any age, is how to avoid unnecessary infections and, crucially, why these measures work. If we understand, we are more likely to stick to what we need to do. This means a working knowledge of healthy eating, exercise, good hygiene and immunisation routines, the lot.
A measure of reassurance and control
When we understand there are things which can be done as individuals to keep the bugs at least in part at bay, we are more likely to take a balanced view on the risks. Alarm and panic rarely help anyone to cope. A grasp of the facts, and feeling we have some measure of control, often does.