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Be healthy, stay healthy: Observances promote health

by Shelly Awaya, Business editor

Valentine’s Day is a couple of weeks old, but here’s something about February 14th that you may not have known.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, February 14th has been designated “National Condom Day,” and is sponsored by the American Social Health Association (ASHA).

The universal theme of Valentine’s Day is romance (or for some, lust). It’s a day you and your special someone can play “love connection” after exchanging cards, chocolates, roses, and of course, hugs and kisses.

In a health-conscious twist, National Condom Day promotes a “safe connection” between you and your Valentine.

Whether it’s love (or lust), even after the romance is over, ASHA wants you to practice safe sex by using condoms so you can have many more pleasurable and fulfilling Valentine’s Days to come.
The majority of us have heard speeches, time and time again, that condoms are the only protection against sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. Here’s some more emphasis: except for abstinence, condoms are the ONLY product available that can prevent both sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

This tip may seem overrated, but it’s one that can’t be pushed enough; it may save your life or help prevent a situation that you may not be financially or emotionally prepared for.

Regarding your overall health, did you know that there are observances for nearly every condition that affects your well being? The observance can be for a day, a week, or even a month.

For example, here’s a list of March observances that promote specific health issues:

• American Red Cross Month recognizes the humanitarian services and accomplishments of the American Red Cross.

· National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month educates the public that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable!

· National Kidney Month urges all Americans, especially those at risk, to get tested for kidney disease.

· National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month attempts to raise the public’s awareness of multiple sclerosis to promote an understanding of the scope of this disease, and to assist those with MS in making educated decisions about their health care.

· National Nutrition Month is designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

· Save Your Vision Month reminds Americans of the importance of regular eye exams with a month’s worth of vision-saving tips displayed on a calendar.

· Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month reminds Americans that accidents at work are a major cause of preventable blindness. The Wise Owl® Program promotes eye safety in the workplace.

· March 7-13 National Patient Safety Awareness Week is an educational campaign for improving patient safety at the local level at hospitals and healthcare organizations across the country.

· March 8-12 National School Breakfast Week provides information appropriate for all ages on the School Breakfast Program and the importance of a good breakfast.

· March 14-20 Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week attempts to reduce morbidity, mortality, and disability from cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases through education, prevention, rehabilitation, research, and aggressive disease management.

· March 15-21 Brain Awareness Week is organized by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives to advance public awareness about the progress, promise, and benefits of brain research.

· March 21-27 National Poison Prevention Week raises awareness of the dangers of unintentional poisonings, as well as steps that can be taken to prevent accidental poisonings in the first place.

· March 21-27 National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week is designed to increase understanding about the use and risks of inhalants.

· March 24 World Tuberculosis Day calls for equitable access to TB services for anyone who has TB, free from discrimination—rich or poor, man or woman, adult or child, imprisoned of free, and including other vulnerable groups such as people with HIV or drug-resistant TB.

· March 29 - April 4 National Sleep Awareness Week: A major public awareness campaign sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation to promote the importance of quality sleep to health, productivity, and safety. The campaign coincides with the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, when we turn our clocks forward one hour and therefore risk losing an hour of sleep. NSF’s annual Sleep in America poll shows that it is an hour of sleep that most Americans can’t afford to lose.

· March 31 Kick Butts Day:Thousands of kids in every state and around the world will stand out…speak up…and seize control in the fight against Big Tobacco.

Designating these periods as reminders of health problems and issues, the sponsors of the observances remind us that if we are likely candidates for any disease or health condition, we should pay close attention to our bodies all the time.

If you’re a likely candidate for any disease or health condition, you should pay close attention to your body and how you feel.

Organizations that promote awareness do it for those who don’t know a lot about an ailment or health issue, and to remind others that only you know your body best. For instance, you may be getting sick if your back aches or your nose is runny. No one tells you you’re going to be ill; your body sends out indicators that prompt you to take action or not.

Education is one key to good health, and prevention is another. By knowing what to do we can do it, whether it’s taking the right medication, exercising, even eating the right foods. Each of us has only one body, one life. These special days, weeks, and months remind us to be healthy and stay healthy by taking care of ourselves.

For more information on other 2004 national health observances, visit the National Health Information Center Web site at

Source: 2004 National Health Observances, National Health Information Center, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.



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