The dialectical relationship between health and learning
Our health is largely a function of our mindsets and behavior patterns, which we acquire through our life journey from family, peers, TV, the internet, and our communities. These habits have significant bearing on our physical, mental and emotional well being.
Many chronic diseases and health disorders, like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and even many types of cancer, find their root causes in our life style and our habits. These diseases are not only impediments to our individual quality of life, but they constitute a serious socio-economic burden. The health costs of obesity in the US alone near 180 billion dollars a year and are expected to soar to 385 billion dollars annually by 2018. The health costs of smoking in the US near 190 billion dollars a year and the figures are rising exponentially.
The big question is: why does the health system pick up the bill for what is fundamentally the outcome of poor education and learning? Any reform of school-based learning should place major emphasis on educating children on the far reaching risks of what seem to be benign "cool" practices (e.g., smoking, junk food, internet and electronic games addiction, excessive mobile use, sedimentary life style) and nurturing in them the capacity and desire to make informed healthy choices in their daily lives.
Our call for making education a primary health care provider is reminiscent of UNESCO's declaration several decades back that the first pillar of education must be "learning to be".