Who is in Charge of my Health?
In many ways it is easy for me to think that I am in charge of my own health. It is my body after all. If I want to be healthy then I can learn what it means to eat healthy foods and make an effort to eat those healthy foods. I can learn why it is important to look after my health in other ways such as not drinking too much alcohol, getting enough exercise, getting enough rest and sleep, making sure I deal with stress in my life and all sorts of other healthy habits. Surely it is up to me to make sure I follow these healthy habits? And when something goes wrong and I get injured or I fall sick then surely it is up to me to get myself to the doctor?
Access to Good Medical Care
Unfortunately supporting healthy habits, like many other things in this extraordinary country of ours, is not equally easy for all people. There are huge differences between what rich people and what poor people living in South Africa can do. The things that lead to poor health are poverty, homelessness, hunger and lack of access to medical care, which is the reality for many communities. These are the same communities that are most often affected by the overcrowding and the pollution that comes with large industries and poor services. Pollution can badly affect our health by contaminating the water, soil and air we need as the basic requirements for a healthy life.
Reclaim Your Health
On top of the things we need in our surroundings, we also need access to good medical care that is affordable. The medical system itself takes the power to determine our own health out of our hands, by making certain medicines and medical procedures extremely expensive or difficult to come by. They do this so that they can make a profit for the businesses and people involved in producing them. Government programmes offering free services to the poor are not enough to serve everyone and are not equally distributed across urban and rural areas.
For women the problem is greater because of the added health risks we face. We need contraception, access to safe child bearing, breastfeeding support, to terminate unwanted pregnancies safely, we need care and support during menopause and access to the proper treatment for our mental and physical health after rape.
Rape Crisis in partnership with AmplifyChange will be hosting a series of workshops on these health risks, about the free services we all have a right to access, where to find these services and what to do and how to complain if we do not get access to these services. Our workshops are spaces for all of us to come together to talk about our lives, to find strength in doing so and to reclaim the power to be in charge of our own health.
We will be publishing a series of blogs about this journey as we go along- sharing knowledge gained and keeping information alive beyond the workshop series. Our next blog will be about the many different kinds of health risks associated with rape.
Plan a Workshop with Rape Crisis
If you would like Rape Crisis to come and conduct a workshop for your organisation, or with a group from your community, please email our training and development coordinator Rifqah Barnes on firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 021 684 1180. OR donate to support the work Rape Crisis does by visiting our pay portal here.
Written by Kathleen Dey
References: Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century, The Boston Women’s Health Collective, Simon and Schuster, Boston, 1998.
Do you have a story to share? We are constantly looking for articles for our blog – if you have a topic you would like to write about let us know. Email Zeenat Hendricks, our communications coordinator email@example.com to find out more about sharing your stories with us, or to sign up for the next writer’s workshop.