Women are natural caregivers, almost except when it comes to taking care of themselves and their reproductive health, which is the least of many women’s concerns.
That ought not to be so, says a reproductive health expert, Fausait Balogun, adding that the gender role placed on women requires women to take care of their family but they must also take good care of themselves.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.
“This means for a woman to practice optimal self-care, she needs to be knowledgeable about her health needs, prevent disease and adopt several positive practices and attitude, Balogun added.
She said, “For ages, women reproductive self-care routine has been very limited. Women can manage to some extent their menstruation, pregnancy, contraception use, and childbirth, but rarely have the time to put their self-care reproductive health knowledge into practices and majority do not even have the knowledge.”
Balogun said the average life expectancy of women in Nigeria is 54.33 years according to a 2018 world bank report; if women practice more self-care routines especially when it comes to their Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH), the life expectancy will be higher, she added.
The expert said SRH knowledge includes women knowing how to choose lower risk partners, protecting themselves during sex and also knowing how to prevent unplanned pregnancies with modern contraceptive methods and solutions.
She noted that recently, with new and easy to use product, women can now actively participate when it comes to their own body and health care. For instance, she listed DMPA-SC, a self-inject contraceptive that has been available to women in Nigeria, but not many are aware of it.
“This method gives women the ability to inject themselves in the comfort of their home to prevent unplanned pregnancies. DMPA-SC offers women the opportunity to improve their self-care routine. It is easily accessible, can be self-administered and last for three months in preventing unplanned pregnancy when administered, but how many Nigerian women are aware of this method?
Balogun however advocated that women need to be deliberate and intentional about self-care practices in the same way they care about their loved ones.
They need to step out of their comfort zones to research modern practices to take care of their SRH needs, as the implication of not doing so could be fatal, she added.
Drink only safe water
Drinking unsafe water can lead to water borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces. Check with your water concessionaire and water refilling station to ensure that the water you’re drinking is safe. In a setting where you are unsure of your water source, boil your water for at least one minute. This will destroy harmful organisms in the water. Let it cool naturally before drinking.