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  • By Gaafar Uherbelau

Year of Good Health

Auckland, NZ – Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. has declared 2018 as the year of Good Health in Palau. Following on last year’s focus on family and youth, the president states, “Our health is the most important thing in our lives and is something that is in all of us whether it’s physical, medical, relationships, mental, or emotional—health plays a role in our daily lives.”

So, what does this actually mean for all of us?

As I have said in previous articles, we, and by we I mean you and I as individuals, the community, and both private and public sectors, have typically viewed health as the absence and prevention of disease and we seldom think about health in a more holistic manner. This means seeing health as a key element that influences and is influenced by everything in our lives, from the mundane to the extraordinary.

By this way of thinking, Palau cannot not remain the paradise that it is, with its clean and pristine ecosystem, lush vegetation and thriving wildlife without a healthful people to nurture and sustain it. The efforts that everyone is putting in now in preserving and protecting our everything would essentially mean nothing and be appreciated by no one, if we don’t secure the health of Palau’s posterity.

So apart from the typical health goals we set for ourselves at the start of each year, I think we need to ask ourselves what else we can do to improve our health this year? One thing we can do besides the usual, is to challenge ourselves to look at things that we seldom think of as having a direct link or impact on our health and to try and improve these things. These are things like spirituality and being more respectful and sensitive towards others; improving our personal finances and work ethics and perhaps even our driving habits and environmental mindfulness. These are just some of the things that when we look at with more focus, we realize actually have an impact on our health, some of them much more so than we realize.

I think by changing our mindset and reshaping our perspectives on health and how we can achieve wellness, we could then see the link between health and everything in our lives more clearly and perhaps in ways we never had beforehand. And once we begin to see everything through this “health lens,” then we might be able to identify the aspects of our daily routines, habits, and attitudes that need to be improved and consequently would produce positive effects on our health.

President Remengesau has always preached thinking outside the box when it comes to environmental protection and preservation and now he challenges us to apply the same outlook to our health. Therefore, let us take up this challenge and really think outside, around and beyond the normal and the usual when it comes to our health and seek more ways to improve it. He is right in emphasizing the crucial role that health plays in our lives. But what we need to do is take the next step and start believing in and behaving with the notion that health isn’t just a condition or a means to a good life. Health is life.

Gaafar Uherbelau is a social marketer for the Palau Ministry of Health and is currently studying Social Sciences for Public Health at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Send feedback to

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