Applying Qur’anic Definition of Health (2): Primary versus Secondary Prevention
While the mouth hygiene and body hygiene are emphasised upon as these propel the sales of thousands of varieties of tooth-brushes, tooth-pastes, lotions, soap, sanitary pads etc., a term like ‘sexual hygiene’ has found no mention anywhere. The result is that, while all other infections in the US have shown remarkable decrease in the last half century, Sex transmitted diseases are on the rise. Out of the top 10 infections in the US, five are STDs and about every fifth of adult has a STD. More than 15 million Americans contract STD annually. These are staggering figures for a superpower that has the biggest medical network in the world. Sexual hygiene means having sex only with one’s spouse, avoiding rectal sex and sex during menses and immediate postnatal period. If this were popularised, the sex-market could have crashed. Hence, only the secondary preventive methods that invariably advocate the use of condoms were chosen to allay the fears of the promiscuous and the pervert and those coming in their contact.
Dr. Javed Jamil
Economic fundamentalism in the medical world has percolated right down to the lowest level. Pharmaceuticals thrive on the spread of diseases, and so do doctors, the owners of nursing homes and hospitals and paramedical personnel. Prevention has therefore been able to grasp much less attention than cure; because prevention, especially the primary prevention, is perilous for their commercial interests. Primary prevention can be defined as the avoidance of such activities and attempts to prevent such environmental conditions to emerge and grow as may be conducive to the development of diseases. Secondary prevention can be defined as the prevention of diseases through use of certain materials, medicines, vaccines, or equipment. The latter has received greater attention, for it is beneficial for the industries. While the mouth hygiene and body hygiene are emphasised upon as these propel the sales of thousands of varieties of tooth-brushes, tooth-pastes, lotions, soap, sanitary pads etc., a term like ‘sexual hygiene’ has found no mention anywhere. The result is that, while all other infections in the US have shown remarkable decrease in the last half century, Sex transmitted diseases are on the rise. Out of the top 10 infections in the US, five are STDs and about every fifth of adult has a STD. More than 15 million Americans contract STD annually. These are staggering figures for a superpower that has the biggest medical network in the world. Sexual hygiene means having sex only with one’s spouse, avoiding rectal sex and sex during menses and immediate postnatal period. If this were popularised, the sex-market could have crashed. Hence, only the secondary preventive methods that invariably advocate the use of condoms were chosen to allay the fears of the promiscuous and the pervert and those coming in their contact. The odour emanating from the mouth of a person not properly brushing his teeth gives sleepless nights to the industries, but the foul smell from the mouth of smokers and drinkers have never caused any alarm. The health of mouth and skin (that is to be kept healthy through creams, lotions and powders) has always kept them worried but not that of liver, heart, brain and lungs. The death and destruction on a much greater scale due to alcoholism have never bothered them. Similarly, the problems due to the steady increase in human population has been a matter of huge importance necessitating world-wide campaign, but the much greater and severer problems owing to the rapid increase in the population of vehicles have not even come to their notice. Such indeed has been the perfection with which the economic fundamentalists have been promoting their plans that their interests can easily be visualised in almost all the campaigns being pushed by the government or international agencies.
To sum up, the modern approach towards health is to promote secondary prevention of diseases requiring the use of certain materials produced by the market, like toothpastes, creams, vaccines of different types, condoms, jellies, etc. Primary prevention involving ban on harmful practices like alcohol, unhealthy sexual behaviours, prostitution, promiscuity, smoking, gambling, etc. has no takers, as such a strategy of prevention would imperil the interests of the market.
Qur’anic Paradigm of Health on the other hand envisages a multi-pronged strategy to keep the population healthy and to treat the ill. Every possible effort is to be made for preserving health. While Qur’an has banned all harmful practices, it has also not failed to highlight the need of the treatment. Prophet Muhammad has called for treatment whenever a disease develops. He has also exhorted the people to continue searching for the remedies by stating that “Allah has produced treatment of everything except senility/death”. This comprehensive approach has the following components:
Banning on the use, sale or promotion of all such practices as are dangerous for health and promotion of practices that are helpful in preventing diseases. Important steps involving Primary Prevention include:
· Istanja (Washing of private parts after urinating), which has huge protective effects against the urogenital infection;
· Wudu (Ablution), which involves washing of the exposed organs and mouth reducing the risks of mouth infections, cardiovascular problems, skin infections and cancers and eye infections;
· Washing of private parts after intercourse and bathing as soon as possible; which will decrease the chances of sex related diseases;
· Total ban on premarital, extramarital sex and promiscuity, homosexuality and prostitution, which all are the leading factors responsible for propagation of various sex related disorders including Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Herpes, Reiter’s disease, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B infection; (The last is not generally included in sex related diseases but has sexual route as one of the most common modes of spread.)
· Avoidance of sex during menses, which again prevents from urogenital infections;
· A compulsory period of Iddah (waiting period) between two marriage partners, which again is very important in preventing sex transmitted diseases. This will be elaborated later;
· Total ban on the production, serving and use of alcoholic beverages, which will not only prevent diseases like Cirrhosis, several cancers and Psychosis but will also help in prevention of sex related diseases and impotence and alcohol related accidents, crimes and suicides;
· Total ban on all addicting substances including drugs, which will prevent diseases like lung cancer, mouth cancer etc; smoking should also deally be declared Haram;
· Total ban on gambling, which will prevent pathological gambling and suicides; also family related tensions;
· Breast-feeding for two years that decreases the chances of a woman getting pregnant before the expiry of the 2 year period thus decreasing all the problems related to repeated pregnancies and also the chances of Breast cancer; it reduces the chances of all infections in children and decreases the risks of cerebrovascular diseases in adulthood
Islam will support all the health-protective measures like vaccines, safe drinking water, condoms in special circumstances and use of pastes and creams. Circumcision that prevents from Phimosis, Paraphimosis, sex-transmitted diseases including AIDS and the Cancer of Cervix (among women) can also be included as a method of secondary prevention, as it involves a surgical procedure. Miswak (Brushing of teeth), which has a remarkable preventive effect on the infective diseases of teeth, gums and several internal organs, is also a part of secondary prevention;
Islam supports all the methods required to relieve pain and distress and to cure the diseases.
In addition, Islam supports a balanced diet including animal as well as plant products. There are also a number of Prophetic traditions describing the importance of various eatables including milk, fruits, dry fruits, seeds and other plant products.
It can be seen that most of the measures related to primary prevention are not going to be accepted or promoted by the forces of globalisation. This is a clear proof of the fact that the international health system is the product of economic fundamentalism, which uses health only as a tool for amassing wealth. Secondary preventive measures like Vaccines, condoms, creams and therapeutic procedures like medical, surgical and other treatments are aggressively promoted and primary prevention is not given its due. The current international paradigm of health is therefore only an incomplete programme, which makes serious compromises on health for the sake of the ruling forces.
This also explains why Pulse Polio Campaign has been run at an unprecedented level in the last two decades throughout the Third World while campaigns against diseases like Malaria and Tuberculosis have lagged far behind both in pace and intensity. This is despite the fact that while Polio hardly kills anybody and only paralyses a few thousands, Tuberculosis and Malaria kill millions of people every year. But as anti-tubercular and anti-malarial drugs are manufactured by the Pharmaceutical industry, they have no interest in pursuing campaigns that would reduce their incidence. If these diseases are controlled through primary prevention methods by the governmental agencies and other organisations, the sales of the medicines will suffer a huge loss. In contrast, polio has no treatment available in the market. It has only vaccines as a preventive measure. The industrialists know it very well that the masses are more inclined to spend money for treating a problem rather than preventing it. It is therefore more expedient, they calculate, to sell vaccines through the governmental and other agencies. Not only will this ensure greater sales of vaccines but will also ensure the utilisation of governmental funds in industry-friendly activities. In this way, the money they give as taxes will be used indirectly for their own benefits.
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Dr Javed Jamil is India based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”, “Qur’anic Paradigms of Sciences & Society” (First Vol: Health), “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and Other works include “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Essence of the Divine Verses”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe”. Read more about him athttp://www.worldmuslimpedia.com/dr-javed-jamil. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/drjavedjamil; also https://javedjamil.com/. He can be contacted at [email protected]