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Keeping healthy while publicly demonstrating



Observing ones right to be heard through public demonstration is vital. Amongst other things it brings a sense of fulfilment. But this must be at the backdrop of safety.


First things first, it must be clear it is a peaceful demonstration. For obvious reasons, violent demonstrations disrupt the peace and put not just protester but all citizens at risk. Lives and property can be lost. More over they are against the law. It is wise to be aware prior to joining, and also keep on the look out while at such demonstrations for signs of violence. In which case find an exit.


Plan ahead. What are current health limitations and how can the nature of demonstration impact on you? For instance having asthma, type 2 diabetes, sickle cell, arthritis amongst others need clear thinking of how far one can engage, or not. This helps know what exactly one would be doing, and helps avoid unnecessary peer pressure once there.


With the sweltering temperatures, airy clothing like cotton are important for maintenance of optimum body temperature. Comfortable walking shoes and hats are equally essential. Fainting from heat can occur as well as injuries to the feet from long distance treks, so it is necessary to dress appropriately.


Water water and more water is needed. Ensure you take some along, and drink intermittently but also more frequently than you do normally. Avoid alcohol, teas and coffee as these are dehydrating. Combined with the heat, fainting and heat stroke can be avoided by drinking more water


Whether friends or family, there are many benefits of going in a group. They already may know each other’s medical history and can advice when going overboard. Secondly they can more easily offer assistance in case of an emergency or change in events. However it is essential to plan a meeting point should one member of the group get separated or phone get lost. It’s always a great idea to have support around, demonstrations are not easy things to be a part of.


Social distancing is one of the hardest to keep in a crowded situation. If one can, it is necessary. However, ensure masks are worn throughout the event as well maintained hand hygiene through sanitizers. Once home wash hands immediately unless facilities exist on the outside where one goes. Protesting during a pandemic clearly comes with its own risks for creating super spreader events.

Despite all these things may not go as planned. Violence may errupt. That’s why one also goes with emergency supplies like plaster bandage, even paracetamol just incase there is a turn of events. While making ones voice heard, safety is paramount, and essential to see a changed society.

Joan Alaboson Joshua is a public health physician and medical doctor with experience in primary care, disease prevention, and health program management in Nigeria. She works to contribute to improved health and wellness.

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