Becoming a parent is exciting yet bewildering at the same time. In the days of yore, we may have our parents or family members close by when we need support or advice. For today’s nucleous families, this social support system is no longer available as people move across cities and countries to live and work.
That is how simple daily routines such as bathing and dressing a newborn baby, treating colic, putting a baby to sleep and feeding a baby may appear to be daunting challenges for new parents today. With the fast pace of life and both parents working, many parents (and even babysitters) today lack the necessary skills, exposure and experience to handle children.
That is the main reason for the wide range of topics related to childcare and child health in myhealthportal (www.myhealth.gov.my), a public health educational service under the Malaysian Ministry Of Health (MOH).
“Our main concern is that people tend to associate health with disease. As such, they look for information and advice only when things go wrong. What we want is to establish a culture of prevention, where Malaysians take health seriously and know how to prevent problems,” says Azman Mohammed, Senior Principal Assistant Director of MOH’s Health Education Division.
He adds that myhealthportal that was established in 2006 was targeted at all parents and caretakers of young children to equip them with important parenting and childcare tips such as shaken baby syndrome, vaccination, infectious diseases such as hand,foot and mouth disease, jaundice, caring for premature babies and what to do during emergencies.
The portal content that is prepared by doctors, healthcare professionals and allied health personnel is updated on a daily basis. Accuracy is a top priority as the content reflects the government’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of the people.
“We have put in a lot of thought to make this portal as user-friendly and useful to readers as possible. There are even over 80 videos on various topics, such as how to bathe a baby, because we realise that different people have different information delivery systems. Some are fine reading an article; other may prefer a step-by-step guide. What better way than to show it through videos,” he explains.
The content committee of the paediatrics section is headed by paediatricians who know what are the common problems faced by new parents. Also included are health advice for teenagers such as understanding their sexuality, risk-taking behaviours, sexually-transmitted diseases and others.
The rising levels of teenage suicides have given rise to a section dedicated to mental health, with an article outlining stress among different age groups of children and advice for parents. For instance parents with school-going children may find it useful to know that frequent stomach aches, headaches, respiratory tract illness, sleep problems, disturbed appetite, stuttering, frequent trips to the bathroom, or tooth-grinding are signs of stress.
Not only that, there’s also a ‘Ask The Expert’ link where you can send your health concerns to a medical professional as well as a smartphone app if you want to access the portal on the go.
“We hope that the portal can change public perception towards health and help people enjoy a better quality of life with better health. A healthy family is more productive, happy and able to contribute to national growth. Everyone must play a part,” Azman concludes.