BY MICHAEL INDIAZI LITU.
One of my goals this year was to go get checked out by a doctor to make sure I am safe from prostate cancer. Maybe, safe is not the word to use in this context, let’s just say my mission was to find out my prostates health. Just to make sure he is fairing on well.Or, if he is not doing fine, at least find a remedy for any inconsistencies found by those cancer specialists whose speciality name I may not know. But I think they are called Oncologists, or something close to that. Of course I had googled it earlier, but man forgets often.
I may also have come across some prostate cancer statistics in a magazine’s medical column and the figures really spoke volumes to me. Most men in this generation have succumbed to this ailment. One of them happened to be a person closely related to me. And so I was weary of this dreadful disease. Early diagnosis of prostate cancer may be the best remedy. So you now understand why getting a prostate cancer diagnosis was top on my ‘’to do’’ list in 2018.
However, thorough google searches hinted me of the diagnostic procedures of prostate cancer. I must say, any man in his rightful state of mind would be very cautious of signing up for that procedure. It is written, that is on some web page in google not the bible that the doctor has to insert his fingers in one’s rectum, in order to assess the health of the prostate. At least that is the basic procedure used for prostate cancer diagnosis to the best of my understanding with information from google.
My only problem with that procedure though, is that being an African man, I am not so comfortable with someone inserting his fingers in my behinds, especially when the doctor conducting the procedure is a man. Ooh, that would be a total turn off for me. If the good doctor is a lady, then that would make the situation a little bit bearable. Currently, I am still struggling with the decision to finally visit a doctor for diagnosis. But at least I have some information of what may conspire in the doctor’s room. Although it is information sourced from google. I cannot hold a candle to how credible information from google is.
Like me, most of you have found yourselves in situations where you need medical information that may help you make critical decisions in your health life. However, with the advent of the internet and e-medicine platforms, one may just be overwhelmed by the overload of information available online. Of course, sorting this information may be an uphill task for you because you are not a trained medical doctor. And the strong language used to describe some diseases online may as well be more dangerous to you than the disease itself.
This limits our choices of where, how and when we are supposed to access quality and useful medical information. Because at the centre of our well-being is health. Visiting a trained medical consultant is the only other best course of action left. But this is Africa; very few people here can afford to pay exorbitant consultation fees required by expert doctors. In most cases, majority of the African population can barely afford meagre medical fees required in public hospitals. This brings us to a dilemma and a very serious one for that matter. How can one access medical information and services conveniently?
A friend of mine was doing very well in life. His son had just graduated from college with a degree. His career was at its climax. His family was doing so well. Life was just beautiful for him. He was full of life and always wearing a smile anywhere he went. You could feel the energy flowing out of him. The man was always jovial until when a simple health complication sent him to a doctor one day. The doctor told him three words that no man wants to here in their lifetime, ”You Have Cancer.” These three simple words, stole the life out this jovial person I knew.
The smiles quickly faded off his face; there was no more laughter around him. He all of a sudden became sulky and moody. He spent most of his time closed away in his room not talking to anyone. As if he was waiting for his death. As fate would have it, I happened to know a community of cancer survivors. I introduced him to this community. He found hope in the people there. Through a series of meet ups, consultations and encouragements, he was able to improve in health.
He found hope in the community; he found a promise of triumph against the cancer in his body through the community. He was given tips and procedures on how to overcome the disease. With time, the smile came back to his face. The laughter found its way around him, even though it was tough, the community was there to answer any questions he had. They had walked that journey, they understood that path, and they had lived the nightmare and came out of it just fine. Sometimes, the best medicine is the promise of hope we can get from people who have suffered in the same way as us.
It is with that in mind that I am working to create a web platform that would create communities of people with similar medical needs and attention. I chose to give the platform an indigenous name,I will call it AFYA POA. This platform will create a virtual space for people with similar medical conditions to interact and find out the best course of action for their conditions. The aim of the platform is to primarily connect people so that they can share their experiences and encourage each other during the tough times of ailment. Think of it as a facebook for people with similar medical needs.
The mobile application and the web platform would create a space for people to share their experiences. For instance, proposed treatment through lifestyle change, fitness routines, healthy diet, and meditation and so on. It would also connect patients to virtual doctors who would be able to offer digital diagnostics online. On the same platform, there will be an online store for one to order exotic foods that are healthy for patients and are not found in the local markets. The store could also connect patients to drugs, prescriptions, medical equipment and services not available locally. This social medical community, of doctors, patients, dieticians and medical practitioners is the future of medicine and the hope for the people of Africa.Afya poa,is the genesis of the medical revolution.