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Horemheb’s Grudge Rule

Benson C Saili
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

   

Ephraim’s successor devotes to expunging Moses and fellow Amarna Kings from human memory

When Pharaoh Tutankhamen (King Tut, the son of Moses/Akhenaten) died circa 1352 BC, at age 21,  he had  no qualifying heirs at all,  having gone to the grave without issue. He had, however, long anointed a successor. The terms of the succession were that in the event that Tut died childless, the army general Horemheb would assume the reins.

Horemheb had no connection geneticwise to the royal family but he was an outstanding diplomat and a proficient general.  A career dog of war, he first served as Secretary of State under King Tut before he was given the powerful portfolio of army commander-in-chief and adviser to the pharaoh.  Aware that Horemheb was the main man behind his father’s ouster, King Tut  thought, and wisely at that,  that Horemheb had to be won over utterly and completely. Thus from practically the word go, King Tut designated Horemheb  as the Hereditary Prince of Upper and Lower Egypt and Deputy of the King in the Entire Land. The message was unequivocal: the young King intended Horemheb to succeed him all other things being equal. 

But it so happened that at the time of King Tut’s death, Horemheb  was away in Asia on a military campaign and his highly  influential uncle Ephraim (Aye to the Egyptians), who loathed the notion of a non-Josephite succeeding to the throne, persuaded King Tut’s half-sister widow, Ankhesenamen, also a child of Moses, to take the throne.  But fearful of the perils of pharaonic office under a political climate in which the army now reigned supreme, Amkhesenamen decided that she would rather a new husband of hers became pharaoh rather than she herself, which was perfectly in line with constitutional provisions. 

The ranks of Horemheb’s lieutenants, who had remained behind,  insisted that  Horemheb had to be the next pharaoh come rain or shine, whether in his own right or as Ankhesenamen’s new husband. The proposal was repugnant both to Ephraim and Ankhesenamen and to Amkhesenamen for one, it was anathema. First and foremost, it was Horemheb, along with  two other members of the army top brass, Pa-Ramses and Seti, who had forced the abdication of her father Moses and were possibly the behind-the-scenes mastermind of the slaying of her husband. Even more pertinent was the fact that Horemheb had no pedigree: as a commoner, he didn’t have a drop of royal  blood coursing in his  veins.  

So Amkhesenamen decided to look elsewhere for a suitor. This  was in foreign territory, in Hatti, the Hittite Kingdom across the Mediterranean Sea. But to Amkhesenamen, the Hittite empire was not strictly foreign territory.  At the time, the Hittite Kingdom was the most formidable challenge to Egypt’s geopolitical clout. It had taken advantage of Moses’ tumultuous reign and pried Syria from the clutches of Egypt. Presently, the Hittite Kingdom encompassed  modern-day Turkey and  Lebanon.

At the time, the largest concentration of the Hykso-Hebrews  was found in Harran in Turkey. Harran not only was founded by Terah, Abraham’s father,  but the Hittite King’s senior wife  was a Hykso-Hebrew and a descendant of Abraham.  In a way,  therefore, Amkhesenamen  was related to Hittite royalty.

JOSEPH’S SON EPHRAIM IS NEW PHARAOH

Amkhesenamen accordingly wrote a letter to King Suppiluliumas of the Hittite Kingdom beseeching him to find her a husband from amongst the Hittite royalty. The letter said, “My husband is dead and I do not have a son. It is said that you have many sons. If you sent one, he could be my husband.” Amkhesenamen underscored in the letter that she wanted a Hittite prince because at home, the powerful Egyptian establishment wanted her to marry “a servant”, that was the abysmally low esteem in which she held Horemheb.

Receiving the letter, Suppiluliumas at first was wary: he thought it was simply a ruse meant to get him to walk into a snare of some sort. So he sent his chamberlain to Egypt with a view to ascertaining the veracity of the message in the letter. The chamberlain was satisfied with his findings and when he returned to Hatti, he carried a second letter from  Amkhesenamen,  which was at once a plea and a remonstration. “Why do you say,   ‘do not deceive me’?” she wondered aloud in the letter. “If I had a son,  would I write to a foreign country in such a humiliating way for me and my country? Give me one of your sons and he will be my husband and the king of Egypt.”

Content with the report of his chamberlain, and excited at the prospect of his own son being Egypt’s sovereign, the Hittite King obliged King Tut’s widow and chose one of his princes, Zannanza, as her new spouse. Horemheb and company were wroth and moved quickly to nip the whole affair right in the bud. Zannanza was waylaid  whilst journeying to Egypt and was killed. Amkhesenamen was gutted. On his part, the Hittite King was so incandescent with rage that he invaded Canaan, which was under Egyptian hegemony, and appended much of the territory to Hatti. 

Be that as it may, Amkhesenamen was adamant that she could marry Horemheb only over her dead body. Acknowledging that  the iron-willed lady simply would not budge, Ephraim then suggested that  she and he  marry to ensure  the throne remained firmly in the hands of the Josephite clan.  Although  Ephraim was significantly older than her, Amkhesenamen meekly gave ground. Thus it was that Ephraim took the Egyptian throne as Pharaoh  Aye in 1352 BC, with Amkhesenamen supplanting her great-aunt Tey (Aye’s first wife) as the Chief Wife.

When Horemheb returned from Asia (he scarcely knew what had transpired as in those days of no mass media and telecommunications,  news travelled glacially slowly), he found Ephraim already ensconced as Pharaoh. In order to at once placate him and co-opt him into the royal dynasty, Horemheb was offered a princess of his choice for espousal. He chose Benretmut, the younger sister of Nefertiti (Moses’ senior wife).  Benretmut was a true-blue Egyptian royal. She had the blood of Amenhotep III (her father) and Tuthmosis IV (her grandfather). Horemheb already had a first wife, Amenia, but she too was supplanted in prestige by the well-connected Benretmut.

HOREMHEB SEIZES POWER

Yet Ephraim as the new pharaoh did not go far enough in endearing himself to the obviously disaffected and disgruntled Horemheb. Whereas under King Tut Horemheb was army commander, under Ephraim he was no more than 2IC.  The rank of army general was given to Nakht Min, who was a relative of Ephraim on his father’s side, which made him a Hykso-Hebrew. To add insult to injury, Ephraim not only adopted General Min as his son but went on to declare him his successor, as some Roman emperors would later do post- first century AD.

It goes without saying that Horemheb was indignant at this virtual snub when King Tut had held him in very high esteem. In any case, Horemheb had always begrudged the Josephite clan. To him, Moses, Aaron, Tut, and Ephraim were all foreigners in that they all were offspring of Joseph, who did not have a single drop of Egyptian blood in him. Of the last six pharaohs, the only true Egyptians, so Horemheb reckoned, were Thutmosis IV and Amenhotep III: the rest were infiltrators whose aim was to   steal the Egyptian throne from the sons of the soil and firmly ensconce it in the hands of the Hykso-Hebrew usurpers.  Horemheb’s dim view of the Josephite scions was the reason he settled for  Benretmut, who was not related to Joseph in any way, shape, or form.

Horemheb’s aversion to the Amarna regime (the pharaohs Moses, Aaron, Tut, and Ephraim) was shared by the dissident establishment in the corridors of Egyptian power. They too resented the Amarna stranglehold on the Egyptian throne. They thus rooted for a true Egyptian to reclaim the throne. They were particularly incensed that Horemheb, an indigenous Egyptian, not only had been elbowed out by Ephraim but he had been sidestepped in the line of succession in favour of another Hykso-Hebrew in Nakht Min, thus perpetuating Hykso-Hebrew control of Egypt.

For the first three years of Ephraim’s rule, Horemheb served him loyally and dutifully but all he was doing was biding his time. Then in year four, he struck. Ephraim was overthrown and both he and his anointed heir Nakht Min were killed. The dude at the helm now was Horemheb. The year was 1348 BC. Horemheb’s power grab ended the Armana era, which lasted a total of 33 years. The number 33 is of special Masonic significance. That Horemheb shot himself to power in the 33rd year of Amarna rule was no coincidence.   
    
THE PHARAOH OF THE OPPRESSION

The name Horemheb means “Triumph of Horus,” one of the most popular of Egyptian gods. In a war both of vengeance (in relation to Set’s killing of Osiris, father to Horus)  and the control of Egypt,  Horus  trounced Set and ejected him from Egypt. No doubt, Horemheb saw himself as Horus and the now terminated Amarna kings as a Setean cabal. Indeed,  his coronation text formally credited “my god Horus”  for establishing him on the throne. Indigenous Egyptians now ruled Egypt. The country had been redeemed from the iron grip of the Hykso-Hebrews.

Upon taking the throne, Horemheb appointed Pa-Ramses, a supine henchman of his, as army commander as well as his first vizier, thus making him the most powerful man in Egypt after Horemheb himself. Pa-Ramses’ son, Seti,  was appointed deputy army commander and second vizier. Both Pa-Ramses and Seti would in future take turns as pharaohs of Egypt. That all the first four pharaohs after King Tut – Ephraim, Horemheb, Ramses I, and Seti – were from the ranks of the army attests to just what a sway the army had on the politics of Egypt. 

HOREMHEB IS THE PHARAOH DESCRIBED IN EXODUS 1:8 AS “A NEW KING OVER EGYPT WHICH KNEW NOT JOSEPH”.  But the proper rendering of this statement should have been of a king who was “not related” to Joseph. Joseph died during the rule of his son Ephraim and therefore Horemheb must have been  well-acquainted with him.  What set Horemheb apart from his four predecessors was that he was not descended from  Joseph.

In fact, he was an implacable enemy of the Hykso-Hebrews. Under his rule, it were the Hykso-Hebrews he targeted first and foremost and saw to  it that he made a misery of their lives. As such, he has become known to scholars who place him in that timeframe as the Pharaoh of the Oppression. The Hykso-Hebrews abounded in the Goshen region in the eastern delta and were concentrated at Avaris and Zaru.

Since Pa-Ramses came from the eastern delta, he was also entrusted with the post of Mayor of Zaru and Overseer of the Fortress of  Zaru.  Pa-Ramses seemed to have devoted himself to making the Hykso-Hebrews lives “bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field”. In the olden days before the time of Thutmosis IV, Zaru used to be a fortress prison. Under Thutmosis IV, it was rehabilitated as one of Egypt’s principal garrison cities.

Horemheb decided to restore it to the prison it used to be and had Pa-Ramses   conscript the Hebrew-Hyksos and set them to the harsh work of rebuilding it along the lines of a prison-city.  Pa-Ramses personally supervised the project, seeing to it  that  Hebrew-Hyksos were subjected to the harshest labour imaginable just out of sheer callousness and not because of desperate necessity.

Once the reconstruction was complete, Pa-Ramses gathered all the hardcore criminals both from among the Hykso-Hebrews and the Egyptians and massed them into the prison-city, with the Egyptian criminals under express instructions to ensure they made hell of  the lot of Hykso-Hebrew prisoners. Because Zaru was reconstructed under the mayoralship of Pa-Ramses, the Bible causes it Pi-Ramses. But it was the plush residence of Pa-Ramses, again built on Hykso-Hebrew slave labour, that Egyptians dubbed Pi-Ramses.

HOREMHEB SETS OUT TO ERASE MEMORY OF AMARNA STREAK

When Horemheb came to power, his aim was to tippex into oblivion the memory of the Amarna Kings, who he regarded as foreign encroachers and appropriators of Egypt’s monarchical institution. As such, he went to unseemly lengths to ensure they were rendered obscure   to posterity and even in the annals of the world altogether. 


The names of the four Amarna Kings were removed from the official Kings’ List of the 18th Dynasty and all other Egyptian records for that matter, so that the next king after Amenhotep III was listed as Horemheb himself.  Horemheb was so phenomenally successful in this purge that for the next 3000 years, the world was unaware totally  that once upon a time, Egypt was ruled by pharaohs  Akhenaten, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamen, and Aye.

All the standing monuments of the Amarna Kings, including their milestone installations, were systematically dismantled. For example, Ephraim’s titulary, which was carved on the back of a  towering  17-ft statue,  was deleted and Horemheb’s own was carved in its place.  In an extreme act of sacrillege, Ephraim’s tomb was ransacked: his sarcophagus was smashed to pieces and his name was chiseled out of the tomb. Although Horemheb spared, by and large, King Tut’s tomb, obviously on account of the fact that it was under his rule that he rose to prominence, he still replaced many of Tut’s cartouches  with his own.  

In the wide-ranging judicial reforms that he instituted, Horemheb laid down strict reprisals even for crimes that were not felonies as such but  were simply misdemeanours. One such barbarism was the decree that all those who misappropriated  monies meant to boost the national fiscus, such as tax receipts, were to have their noses hacked off before being  taken  to the fortress prison at Zaru,  there  to die a slow and agonising death. 

The Theban priesthood were not entirely left to their own devices either. They were allowed unfettered religious freedom alright,  but their ranks were heavily diluted with deployees from the army whose allegiance first and foremost was to the pharaoh and only secondarily to matters of faith.  That way, Horemheb intended to ensure that the priesthood did not undermine his authority or secretly connive   with pro-Armana dissidents to oust him.

HOREMHEB HAUNTED BY MOSES

Of the four Armana Kings, two were dead. Of the two who were alive, that is, Moses and Aaron, it was Moses who represented the greater threat to Horemheb: it didn’t matter that he was no longer based on Egyptian soil but was practically in another country. It transpired that the Cult of the Aten that Moses had pioneered and fiercely championed as pharaoh did not die with his departure: in point of fact, it had been gaining ground in the intervening years.

A great number of Egyptians had adopted Atenism and were no longer a peripheral religious constituency. Horemheb feared that if these continued to rally in force and make a great deal of  politico-religious commotion, they would transform into a serious pro-Moses movement that could pose a serious threat to his  rule. Horemheb thus decided to put his foot down and drown away the potential clamour for the return of Moses.

In what one scholar has termed the ruthless Amunism of Horemheb (his fanatical devotion to Amen-Ra-Marduk),   Horemheb declared Moses his Enemy No. 1. He prohibited the worship of Aten and designated the very mention of the name Akhenaten punishable by death. In public pronouncements,  Moses was referred to as the Fallen One of Akhetaten (the original name of Amarna); the Scoundrel of Akhetaten; or the Rebel of Akhetaten. Egyptians who secretly continued to venerate Aten were dubbed “Polluted Persons”. The monuments that Moses had erected and which were still standing up to the time of Ephraim were pulled down and the rabble thereof used as part of  the building  material for Horemheb’s pylons.

With the mention of Akhenaten’s name outlawed, his underground followers had decided to come up with a coded name. This was Mos, or Mosis. In the Egyptian language of the day, Mos had two meanings. One was “son” and the other was “the rightful son and heir”, the “Royal Mosis”.  To his followers, Akhenaten was not only the firstborn son of Amenhotep III, the 8th Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty,  but he remained the rightful King of Egypt given the circumstances under which he left office.

IT WAS THE MONIKER MOSIS WHICH IN THE HEBREW VERSION OF BIBLE APPEARS AS MOSHE  AND AS MOSES IN ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS.  Says the renowned Egyptologist Ahmed Osman: “The biblical editor, who may not have had any knowledge of the original name of the greatest Jewish leader, attempted to put forward a Hebrew explanation of the Egyptian word Moses in order to sever any possible link between Moses and Egypt.”

Horemheb has been characterised by scholars as akin to the Spanish dictator Franco. But his reign was not entirely without its bright spots. He was “a prolific builder who erected numerous temples and buildings throughout Egypt”. Under him, “power and confidence were once again restored after the internal chaos of the Armana period”.  For that he deserves a bit of credit and not wholesale pillorying.

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Appendicitis: Recognising the Signs

29th March 2022

Many a times I get clients casually walking into my room and requesting to be checked for “appendix”.  Few questions down the line, it is clear they are unaware of where the appendix is or what to expect when one does have it (appendicitis). Jokingly (or maybe not) I would tell them they would possibly not be having appendicitis and laughing as hard as they are doing. On the other hand, I would be impressed that at least they know and acknowledge that appendicitis is a serious thing that they should be worried about.

So, what is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix; a thin, finger-like pouch attached to the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Often the inflammation can be as a result of blockage either by the faecal matter, a foreign body, infection, trauma or a tumour. Appendicitis is generally acute, with symptoms coming on over the course of a day and becoming severe rapidly. Chronic appendicitis can also occur, though rarely. In chronic cases, symptoms are less severe and can last for days, weeks, or even months. 

Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that almost always ends up in the operating theatre. Though the appendix is locally referred to as “lela la sukiri”, no one knows its exact role and it definitely does not have anything to do with sugar metabolism. Appendicitis can strike at any age, but it is mostly common from the teen years to the 30s.

Signs to look out for

If you have any of the following symptoms, go and see a Doctor immediately! Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital in acute appendicitis;

Sudden pain that starts around the navel and shifts to the lower right abdomen within hours

The pain becomes constant and increases in severity (or comes back despite painkillers)

The pain worsens on coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking or deep breaths

Loss of appetite

Nausea and vomiting

Fever

Constipation or diarrhoea

Abdominal bloating/fullness

Diagnosis

The doctor often asks questions regarding the symptoms and the patient’s medical history. This will be followed up by a physical examination in which the Doctor presses on the abdomen to check for any tenderness, and the location of the pain. With acute appendicitis, pressing on and letting go of the right lower abdomen usually elicits an excruciatingly unbearable pain. Several tests may be ordered to determine especially the severity of the illness and to rule out other causes of abdominal pain. The tests may conditions include: blood tests, a pregnancy test, urinalysis, abdominal  “How do ultrasound scans work?” ultrasound (scan), CT scan or MRI Scan.

Treatment

The gold standard treatment of acute appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix known as appendectomy. Luckily, a person can live just fine without an appendix! Surgical options include laparoscopy or open surgery and the type will be decided on by the Surgeon after assessing the patient’s condition. Painkillers and antibiotics are also given intravenously usually before, during and after the surgery.

Complications

Appendicitis can cause serious complications such as;

Appendicular mass/abscessIf the appendix is inflamed or bursts, one may develop a pocket of pus around it known as an abscess. In most cases, the abscess will be treated with antibiotics and drained first by placing a tube through one’s abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube may be left in place for a few hours or days while the infection is clearing up but ultimately one would still have surgery to remove the appendix.

Peritonitis – without treatment, the appendix can rupture/burst. The risk of this rises 48–72 hours after symptoms start. A ruptured appendix spreads the infection throughout the abdomen (peritonitis). This is life threatening and requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.

Death – The complications of appendicitis (and appendectomy) can be life threatening, only if the diagnosis has been missed and no proper treatment has been given on time. This is rare though with the evolved medical care.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email  HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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A degree of common sense

7th February 2022

Here’s a news item from last month you may have missed. In December 2021 the University of Staffordshire announced it would be offered a degree course in pantomime! Yes, that’s right, a degree in popular festive entertainment, the Christmas panto.

We used to have one here, put on by the Capitol Players, though it seems to have fallen away in recent times, but the spectacle is still alive and well in the UK, both in local ad-dram (amateur dramatic ) societies and on the London stage and most of the major cities, these latter productions usually featuring at least one big-draw name from the world of show business with ticket prices commensurate with the star’s salary.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the pantomime format, it consists of a raucous mixture of songs and comedy all based around a well-known fairy or folk tale. Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk & Dick Whittington are perennial favourites but any well-known tall tale goes. There is no set script, unlike a play, and storyline is just a peg to hang a coat of contemporary, often bawdy, gags on, in what should be a rollicking production of cross dressing – there has to be at least one pantomime dame, played by a man and always a figure of fun, and a Principal Boy, ostensibly the male lead, yet played by an attractive young woman.

As an art form it can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and the Commedia Del’Arte which used a mélange of music, dance, acrobatics along with a cast of comic stock characters so it has a long and proud theatrical tradition but you have to wonder, does that really qualify it as a suitable subject for a university? Further, what use might any degree be that can be acquired in a single year? And last but not least, how much standing does any degree have which comes from a jumped-up polytechnic, granted university status along with many of its ilk back in 1992, for reasons best known to the government of the time? Even more worrying are the stated aims of the course.

Staffordshire University claims it is a world first and the masters course is aimed at people working inside as well as outside the industry. Students on the course, due to start in September 2022, will get practical training in the art form as well as research the discipline.

“We want to see how far we can take this,” Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Robert Marsden said. The role of pantomime in the 21st Century was also going to be examined, he said, “particularly post Me Too and Black Lives Matter”. Questions including “how do we address the gender issues, how do we tell the story of Aladdin in 2021, how do we get that balance of male/female roles?” will be asked, Prof Marsden added.

Eek! Sounds like Prof. Marsden wants to rob it of both its history and its comedic aspects – well, good luck with that! Of course that isn’t the only bizarre, obscure and frankly time and money-wasting degree course available. Staying with the performing arts there’s Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance at Bath Spa University. Sounds like fun but why on earth would a circus performer need a university degree?

Or how about a Surf Science and Technology degree at Cornwall College (part of the University of Plymouth). Where the one thing you don’t learn is….how to surf!

Then there is a  degree in Floral Design at University Centre Myerscough. No, I hadn’t heard of it either – turns out it’s a college of further education in Preston, a town that in my experience fits the old joke of ‘I went there once…..It was closed’ to a ‘T’!

Another handy (pun intended) art is that of Hand Embroidery BA (Hons), offered at the University for the Creative Arts. Or you could waste away sorry, while away, your time on a course in Animal Behaviour and Psychology. This degree at the University of Chester teaches you about the way animals think and feel. Cockroaches have personalities according to the subject specs– you couldn’t make it up.

Happily all these educational institutes may have to look to their laurels and try to justify their very existence in the near future. In plans announced this week, universities could face fines of up to £500,000 (P750m), be stripped of their right to take student loans or effectively shut down if they cannot get 60 per cent of students into a professional job under a crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses. Further, at least 80 per cent of students should not drop out after the first year, and 75 per cent should graduate.

The rules, published by the Office for Students (OfS), aim to eliminate ‘low-quality’ courses by setting new standards & requiring courses to improve their rating in the TEF, the official universities ratings system. Universities not meeting the new standards will not be able to charge full annual fees of £9,250. Unconventional courses that could fall victim to the new rules could include the University of Sunderland’s BA in Fashion Journalism, where students learn essential’ skills such as catwalk reporting and the history of Chanel.  They have only a 40 per cent chance of entering highly skilled work 15 months after leaving.

At University College Birmingham, BSC Bakery and Patisserie Technology students – who learn how to ‘make artisan bread’ – have a 15 per cent chance of a professional job within 15 months. Universities minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the move, saying ‘When students go to university, they do so in the pursuit of a life-changing education, one which helps pave their path towards a highly skilled career. Any university that fails to match this ambition must be held to account.’

OfS found that at 25 universities, fewer than half of students find professional work within 15 months.  Business and management courses at the University of Bedfordshire (14.8 per cent) were among the least likely to lead to graduate-level jobs.  Asked to comment, the University of Sunderland said it always looked ‘to find ways to improve outcomes’; University College Birmingham said data on graduates and definition of ‘professional work’ was limited. I’ll bet it is! As the saying goes, ’what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’. What a pantomime!

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Why regular health checks are important!

7th February 2022

With the world still reeling from the negative impact of the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), and the latest Omicron variant (which is responsible for the ongoing global forth wave) on everyone’s lips, we should not forget and neglect other aspects of our health.

While anyone can get infected with corona virus and become seriously ill or die at any age, studies continue to show that people aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying medical conditions like hypertension, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity, cancers, or mental illness are at a higher risk of developing serious illness or dying from covid-19.

It is a good habit to visit a doctor regularly, even if you feel healthy. Regular health checks can help identify any early signs of health issues or assess your risk of future illness hence prompting one to take charge and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other non-communicable diseases (even communicable) can often be picked up in their early stages, when chances for effective treatment are high.

During a health check, your doctor will take a thorough history from you regarding your medical history, your family’s history of disease, your social life and habits, including your diet, physical activity, alcohol use, smoking and drug intake. S/he will examine you including measuring your weight, blood pressure, feeling your body organs and listening to your heart and lungs amongst the rest. Depending on the assessment, your doctor will notify you how often you need to have a health check. If you have a high risk of a particular health condition, your doctor may recommend more frequent health checks from an early age.

Diet – a healthy diet improves one’s general health and wellbeing. It is recommended that we have at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. Physical activity – regular physical activity has significant health benefits on one’s body, mind & soul. It contributes to preventing and managing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills and improves overall well-being. According to the world health organisation (WHO), people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of moderate physical activity at least four days in a week. Examples of moderate physical activity include brisk walking, gentle swimming and social tennis.

Weight – maintaining a healthy weight range helps in preventing long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is also vital for one’s mental wellbeing and keeping up with normal activities of daily living. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference annually. If you are at a higher risk, you should have your weight checked more frequently and a stern management plan in place.

Alcohol – as per WHO reports, alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Healthy drinking entails taking no more than two standard drinks per drinking day with at least two alcohol-free days in a week.

Smoking –Nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, many different types of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. Every year, at least a whopping 8 million people succumb from tobacco use worldwide. Tobacco can also be deadly for non-smokers through second-hand smoke exposure. It is not ‘fashionable’ if it is going to cost you and your loved ones lives! If you are currently smoking, talk to your doctor and get help in quitting as soon as possible to reduce the harm.

Blood pressure: Hypertension is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. It is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition. Have your blood pressure checked annually if it is normal, you are aged under 40 and there is no family history of hypertension. You might need to have it checked more frequently if you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side, or you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Your doctor will be there to guide you.

Dental care – eating a low-sugar diet and cleaning and flossing the teeth regularly can reduce one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Visit a dentist every six months for a dental examination and professional cleaning, or more frequently as per your dentist’s advice.
Blood tests – annual to five-yearly blood tests may be done to further assess or confirm risk of disease. These may include blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, kidney function, liver function, tumour markers, among other things. They may be done frequently if there is already an existing medical condition.

Cancer screening – various screening techniques can be done to detect different cancers in their early or pre-cancer stages. These include; skin inspections for any suspicious moles/spots, two-yearly mammograms for those at risk of developing breast cancer, Pap smear or the new Cervical Screening Test (CST) every five years, stool tests and colonoscopy (every five years) for those at most risk of bowel cancer, prostate cancer screening for those at risk (over 45 years of age, family history of cancers etc.). Discuss appropriate tests with your doctor.

Vaccinations – You should discuss with your doctor about the necessary routine immunisation, in particular; the Covid-19 vaccines, an annual flu shot, a five-yearly pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one or you are immunocompromised and any other boosters that you might need.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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