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Marduk Vs Adad

Benson C Sail
THIS EARTH, MY BROTHER

Babylon rebounds after 325 years of Assyria overrule

With the return of planet Nibiru into visibility near-at-hand, the context of every war waged by a worthwhile power (under the banner of their respective gods) in the Middle East was Nibiru.   Every war was about who would control the space-related sites of Baalbek in Lebanon and Mission Control Centre in Jerusalem in the main as Anu, “Our Father Who Art In Heaven”, was expected to land at the Nazca spaceport in South America; be flown to Baalbek; and finally ferried to Jerusalem, which he would officially declare the Navel of the Earth, that is, the geopolitical hub of the planet, since Sumeria’s Nippur.

The main contenders for the space-related sites were Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria, with Assyria exhibiting the greatest resolve in line with the ultra-ambitious bent of their patron god Ishkur-Adad. In their conquer-and-tame campaign, the Assyrians first targeted Harran in today’s southern Turkey, which was at once a trade and religious centre and whose patron god was Nannar-Sin, Enlil-Jehovah’s second-born son.  Thereafter, they set their sights on La-Ba-An, today’s Lebanon.

The object of their acquisitive thrust here was Baalbek. The Assyrian King Shalmaneser III, who reigned from 859–824 BC, was later to erect a commemorative stela on Baalbek to broadcast to the world at large that it belonged to Assyria. He called it Bit Adini, meaning “Place where Eden is Located”. Mankind regarded Baalbek as a gateway to Paradise and when the King of Tyre was given the nod to visit there and “move within its fiery stones” (ride in a rocket), he upon his return set about boasting to his subjects and fellow kings   that he had become a “god” (Anunnaki), which earned him a scathing rebuke from the prophet Ezekiel.  

The Assyrians had also captured the Phoenician coastal cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos under Shalmaneser III’s predecessor Ashurnasirpal II, who ruled from 883-859 BC.  It seems in the quest to secure hegemony over the Middle East, Ishkur-Adad had the upper hand. His client nation, the Assyrians, now laid claim to Baalbek, Phoenicia, and Harran, and his other client nation, the Israelites, controlled Jerusalem. Sin and Utu-Shamash, who was the patron god of Lebanon, were trailing by far in the space-related site stakes.

ASSYRIA BLINDFOLDS BABYLON

With Baalbek in the bag, the Assyrians now had their eyes trained on the ultimate prize – Jerusalem. In the push to acquire Jerusalem, Assyria’s main rival was Babylon.  Assyria wanted Jerusalem wholly to itself and so Babylon had to be kept well at bay. This required tact. Exactly how? The trick the Assyrians came up with was to join forces with Babylon in the short-term. THEY WOULD PRETEND TO HAVE COMMON CAUSE WITH BABYLON AND WHEN TIME WAS RIPE OVERRUN BABYLON ALTOGETHER: that way, they would be the only power standing in the Middle East. 

Apparently, the first to make such an overture to Babylon was Shalmaneser III. In the ensuing pact, the kings of Babylon and Assyria not only were regarded as allies but as equal partners. What that meant was that if, for instance, Shalmaneser went off at a tangent in his imperialistic forays, the Babylonian king would leave him to his own devices and not interfere.   On the other hand, if the one was wracked with internal turmoil, the other would  rush over to help defuse the crisis by hook or crook.

That was the loophole the Assyrians used to basically colonise Babylon. In 851 BC, for instance, Shalmaneser descended on Babylon when the incumbent king faced ouster by his younger brother. The rebel brother was captured and put to the sword by Shalmaneser. In due course, Shalmaneser bullied his way into the Canaanite area unilaterally and captured all the Phoenician cities that lined the Mediterranean coast. He then proceeded to bully his way into the Kingdom of Israel. However, he did not annex Israel but turned it into a vassal state. In his annals, he boasts of receiving tribute from King Jehu of Israel.

The credit for the last and greatest phase of Assyrian expansion, however, belongs to Tiglath-Pileser III, who ruled from 745-727 BC. In 733 BC, Pileser invaded the Kingdom of Israel and captured the province of Galilee. The population of Galilee was rounded up and deported to Assyria. This was the tribe of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh.  Meanwhile, Israel’s King was deposed, killed, and replaced by a puppet King called Hoshea. The Kingdom of Judah, which was ruled by King Ahaz, a vassal of Assyria, was spared.

Even then, the Assyrians were simply biding their time, poised to strike at a most opportune time given the centrality of the Judean-based Jerusalem in the context of the returning Nibiru. Pileser also seized and subjected Syria to his rule. In 729 BC, Pileser, like Shalmaneser before him, was called upon to intervene in Babylon when its king was deposed by a Chaldean chieftain – a foreigner. 

Pileser marched into Babylon and unseated the usurper. But he did not annex Babylonian territories and turn them into provinces under the control of his governors, by then the established Assyrian practice. Instead, in keeping with earlier practice, he assumed the throne of Babylon directly and claimed the title of "King of Sumer and Akkad". Pileser’s acceptance by the Babylonians was mixed but the priests of Marduk duly recognised him as Babylon’s King. He thus became the first Assyrian king to “take the hand of Marduk” and partake of the god’s sacramental meal.

SARGON II SENDS THE TEN TRIBES OF ISRAEL INTO OBLIVION

Upon his demise in 727 BC, Tiglath-Pileser III was succeeded by his son Shalmaneser V as King of both Babylon and Assyria. Like all his predecessors, Shalmaneser’s principal focus was Palestine. Both Palestine and the surrounding countries had to be firmly under the control of Assyria by the time King Anu touched down on planet Earth. Although Jerusalem in Judah was the ultimate quest, it was vitally important to rule over the neighbouring states as well lest they become a menace in the foreseeable future as Nibiru neared. The overrule could be direct (taking over completely, with an Assyrian governor in place) or indirect (installing a client King with unquestioning allegiance to the Assyrian crown).

In Pileser’s time, Hoshea, the King of Israel, dutifully paid tribute to Assyria. But when Shalmaneser ascended to the throne, Hoshea reneged on his obligations by allying himself with Pharaoh Osorkon IV of Egypt. Like Assyria, Egypt had imperial designs over Palestine. Shalmaneser’s retributive response was immediate and drastic.

He directed his forces at Israel with a view to rendering it desolate. The forces, however, were met with fierce resistance. As such, it took three years for Israel to fall. But no sooner had Shalmaneser had Israel routed than he was deposed by his own younger brother, who took the throne as Sargon II. This was in 722 BC.

Although Shalmaneser V tried hard to hold his father’s empire together and expand on it, which he succeeded in to a degree, his military exploits were not carried out with the speed and efficiency that had marked his father’s reign and his taxation and labour policies were unpopular with the people,  who he subjected to grueling, unrewarded toil. Sargon II abolished the taxation and labour policies, and ended the sieges his brother’s administration had prolonged. With these charitable measures, Sargon II was endorsed by the Babylonian priesthood as in 705 BC, he too was granted the privilege of taking the hand of the god Marduk.

Like Shalmaneser, Sargon II was determined to deal with Israel once and for all.  Laying siege to the country, he emptied it of all its inhabitants and deported them to the provinces of Assyria. Altogether, this was about 30,000 Jewish exiles.  The emptied former Kingdom of Israel was resettled with people from Babylon and four regions of Assyria. They were to become known as Samaritans.

The deported Israelites became known as the “Lost Ten Tribes of Israel” (that is, all the Jewish tribes except the tribe of Judah and Benjamin) in that they diffused into other nations, over time venturing as far afield as Europe and the Caucasus, losing their Jewish identity and culture in the process.  Their whereabouts remain a mystery to date. The dissolution of the Kingdom of Israel by Sargon II meant that Hoshea was the last Jewish King of Israel. The Kingdom of Judah, on the other hand, continued to flourish and proved a loyal ally of Assyria till the death of Sargon II in 705 BC.

SENNACHERIB DESTROYS BABYLON

Sargon II was succeeded by his son Sennacherib. Sennacherib’s first major headache took the form of Babylonia and Judah. The Babylonian problem was Merodach, a Babylonian patriot who in 721 BC seized power not long after Sargon II had deposed Shalmaneser V. For the next 10 years, Babylonia was thus independent of Assyrian rule. Sargon II was in the meantime busy trying to neutralise the Elamites, a power in the ascendant who were by and large Merodach’s bulwark. 

In 710 BC, Sargon finally vanquished the Elamites, after which he marched on Babylon. Without the Elamite prop, Merodach was a sitting duck and so he fled for dear life. Babylonia once again had been caught back in the powerful orbit of Assyria.  However, following the death of Sargon, Merodach re-emerged. He coaxed King Hezekiah of Judah, the most important state between Assyria and Egypt, into fomenting unrest against Sennacherib, to which Hezekiah paid due heed. 

The Judean revolt had a contagion effect on Babylon and once again, Merodach seized the throne in 703 BC. But he was in power for only 9 months, whereupon Sennacherib drove him away from the country. Sennacherib was measured in his ravaging of Babylon: although he sacked it, he did not destroy it. Meanwhile, Hezekiah had cultivated new alliances, one of whom was Egypt. Buoyed by this association with a great power, he took a stand against Sennacherib and stopped paying tribute.

In 701 BC, Sennacherib’s troops descended on Judah. The Assyrian army laid waste to Judah’s 46 cities and had Hezekiah “trapped like a caged bird” in Jerusalem but still they were unable to capture the city. Hezekiah was therefore not dethroned; instead, he resumed his status as Assyria’s vassal king. Now, unlike his predecessors who tried their utmost to ingratiate themselves with the Babylonians, the Assyrian subjects, Sennacherib didn’t care an iota about what the Babylonians thought about him and was never in awe of its religious institutions.

For instance, when he became king in 705 BC, he disdained the prestigious ceremony whereby he was supposed to take the hand of Marduk both as a sign of respect for the god and as a confirmation of his legitimacy as overarching King of Babylonia. All he did was send word that he now called the shots in Babylonia without even bothering to visit its capital, the city of Babylon.  He never took part in key ceremonies where the King was supposed to preside, such as the New Year ritual.

After he had expelled Merodach from Babylon in 702 BC, he installed an Assyrian puppet king but later replaced him with his favourite son and chosen heir Ashur. He just didn’t want to take a direct part in the affairs of Babylon at all. In 698 BC, Ashur was abducted by the Elamites, who now declared Babylonia as their colony. This precipitated a four-year-war between Assyria on the one hand and Elam and Babylonia on the other. Assyria lost the war and Ashur was presumed dead.

Then in 689 BC, the Elamite king died, at which point Sennacherib decided to pounce on Babylon.  The city fell, and he sent the pretender to the throne back to Nineveh in chains. He had spent more time during his reign dealing with Babylon and the Elamites, and had expended more men and resources on dealing with the city, than on any other campaign. His patience had run out, and so he ordered the city to be razed to the ground. Sennacherib went on to commit acts of sacrilege. He plundered and destroyed all the temples and carried the statue of Marduk back to Nineveh, his Assyrian capital, as a war trophy. 
 
ESARHADDON REBUILDS BABYLON

In 681 BC, Sennacherib was assassinated by two of his sons who were loath to the fact that he had anointed his youngest son, Esarhaddon, as his heir at their expense. But in the ensuing six-week civil war, Esarhaddon emerged victorious and was crowned King. Cognizant of the fact that his father had lost much of his popularity both in Babylon and Assyria because of what he did to Babylon, Esarhaddon’s first priority and preoccupation was to rebuild Babylon and revitalise its religious institutions.

He straightaway set course for Babylon, took the hand of Marduk, and declared his allegiance to both Marduk and Ishkur-Adad, who was known as Ashur to the Assyrians. In fact, more often than not, he would swear by Marduk and his son Nabu rather than by Adad. In his endeavour to restore Babylon to its past glory, the first thing Esarhaddon did was to rebuild the Esagil, Marduk’s iconic temple. Meanwhile, he was not oblivious to the matter of the Return (of planet Nibiru).

Under the tutelage of the gods Adad and Utu-Shamash, so he documents in his annals, he set up an astronomical observatory in Ashur, Assyria’s cult centre, specifically geared to the Nibiru watch.  On an array of monuments, he had depicted all planets of the solar system, including Nibiru, to underscore Assyria’s Return expectations. A new monumental gate reminiscent of King Anu’s palatial gateway on Nibiru was erected at Esarhaddon’s sacred precincts.   

In 675, Egypt, which was vying with Assyria for supremacy over the Middle East, more so over Jerusalem, stirred the Phoenician city of Tyre to revolt against Assyria.  Esarhaddon responded by declaring war on Egypt forthwith. The campaign already had the blessings of Marduk and Adad but Esarhaddon wanted a full complement of blessings. So   on his way to Egypt, he detoured to Harran, the cult city of the god Nannar-Sin. He found the god with his chief messenger Nusku reclining on a couch in his temple. The god gave the campaign his nod too.

It took four years, however, for Esarhaddon to conquer a plucky Egypt. In fact, little more than a year later, the deposed Egyptian Pharaoh Taharqa staged a renewed putsch in 669 BC and Esarhaddon was on his way to crack down on the rebellion when he fell ill and passed away. He was succeeded by his son Ashurbanipal. Meanwhile, Esarhaddon had the all-important Kingdom of Judah firmly under his thumb. When its king, Manasseh, at one time tried to misbehave, Esarhaddon had him apprehended and kept prisoner for some time in Babylon.

NABUPOLASSAR RESTORES BABYLON TO GREATNESS
   
Ashurbanipal was the last powerful defender and expander of the  Assyrian empire. He reigned from 668-627 BC, with his younger brother Shamash-Shum-Ukin given charge of Babylon but subordinate to him. The Assyrian empire was at its strongest during the rule of Ashurbanipal but it grew too large for its own good, comprising of today’s Iraq, Syria, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Palestine.

Vast but finite resources were expended just to maintain it and there weren’t enough troops to garrison the empire. In the event, some parts of the empire decided to exploit this weakness by declaring independence. Egypt was one of the nations that did so in 652 BC, although it  continued to maintain friendly relations with Assyria. In that same year,  Shamash-Shum-Ukin also rose against his brother in a bid to make Babylon independent of Assyria. The resulting civil war went on for years, when Shamash-Shum-Ukin was cornered by the forces of his brother and committed suicide. There were further pockets of rebellion in the empire but Ashurbanipal was able to contain them for as long as he lived.

Then following his death in 627 BC, the empire began to unravel. Three kings ruled after him in close succession following coups and counter-coups. In 625 BC, a Babylonian general going by the name Nabupolassar, rebelled and prised Babylonia away from Assyria. A Babylonian tablet says thus of his coronation: “The princes of the land were assembled; they blessed Nabupolassar; opening their fists, they declared him sovereign; Marduk in the assembly of the gods gave the Standard of Power to Nabupolassar.”

In 616 BC, Nabupolassar allied with the Persians, who resented the Assyrian yoke like the plague, and together they attacked Assyria and Sinsharishkun, the Assyrian king, was killed.  Taking advantage of the power vacuum, his general took the throne under the name Ashur-uballit II.  Ashur-uballit II cultivated an alliance with the Egyptians and with their help he held on until 609 BC, when the Babylonians-Persian alliance defeated the former. 

Ashur-uballit II fled to Harran, where he now deferred to a relation of  Sinsharishkun who had sought citadel there after the latter was ousted.  Ashur-uballit II and remnants of the Assyrian army declared the relation King of Assyria in  exile but to no avail. Ashur-uballit II had hoped to secure the blessings of the god Sin in this regard but the god snubbed him.  That same year, a combined Babylonian and Persian forces led siege to and captured Harran.

It was all over: the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which had been existence  for 325 years and grew to become the largest empire ever hitherto, was no more.  Babylon was the new superpower of the globe thanks to the exploits of Nabupolassar and the Neo-Babylonian Empire had begun. Marduk had triumphed over Adad.

 NEXT WEEK:   THE END OF ANCIENT ISRAEL

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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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