World Health Day- 7 April 2017

How so many of us miss the basics of simple hygiene! ~ Dr John D’Arcy

“There is nothing as constant as change”. I think we all agree.  Close your eyes for just a minute and change happens. It might be as simple as realising that the size of the containers which contain your peanut butter are now smaller so you get less for your money, or becoming aware that a world famous cell phone company no longer exists; their business swallowed up by another.

Our climate is changing. Summers are hotter and at other times the rain pours down. On the Eastern Coast Australia we have had the hottest February and the wettest March for generations. Amidst the constant change and perhaps because of it, we tend to forget those things which stay the same.


Let’s look at Simple hygiene

If we wash our hands before we eat and if our doctors washed their hands between patients’ the simple act of that wash would reduce the spread of food-borne illness and the alarming amount of cross infection in our hospitals.

It’s simple; basic hygiene has saved millions of lives. So has clean water but somehow we take it all for granted. Relying on the magic medical bullets that the medical profession possess.

The air we breathe in the cities is not as pure as we would like it to be, tarnished with the out flow of exhaust smoke from the millions of cars and trucks on the road, and from the factories desperately trying to bring us the goods we demand and use on a daily basis.


Let’s look at the way we live and the houses and office buildings that we build?

Even in this wide brown land, our cities are crowded and expanding at a great rate. Sydney has reached five million people in half the time it took to reach four million. Such are the demands on us to be productive, we tend to lock ourselves in.

We turn on the gas in winter to beat the cold and use air conditioning in the summer to beat the heat. Big building have windows which don’t open and rely on air conditioning to create the ideal temperature to work.

But, how carefully are these huge air conditioning units appropriately managed to prevent people from being exposed to disease causing moulds and bacteria?

Asthma, an allergic and inflammatory condition of the lung affects one in nine in Australia; that’s about 2.5 million people and allergy affects almost 20%. 78% of people with allergies are in the working age population; that’s 7.2 million people.

Although those magic medical bullets have reduced the death rate and helped people cope with asthma and there are ways to reduce the feeling of un-wellness of allergy, prevention is always better than cure. Just as asthmatics rely on their reliever medications to help them when the symptoms over power them, it’s their preventer medication which stops the cause: the inflammation in the lung.


Presenteeism costs the country

Properly servicing air conditioning units, not just in the work place but in leisure centres and in the home and visiting a general practitioner when you are sick, goes a long way to underline the huge benefits of prevention in a country where allergic disease is one of the main reasons to beat Presenteeism, people coming to work but are unwell. Presenteeism costs the country $34 Billion in lost productivity .

On this World Health Day, where the message of prevention is being advanced, spend a little time to work out what you can do to assist yourself and your family to make necessary changes and develop a happier and healthier life.


Dr John D’Arcy O’Donnell AM