Thursday, 6 March 2008

Tie a yellow ribbon

Betcha didn't know that this is National Knowledge Week for acne vulgaris. National Knowledge Weeks are an idea from the National Library for Health. Each of the weeks highlights one of their specialist libraries and the latest information in it.

Practically every day, week or month is designated to celebrate or highlight something. Next week is Prostate Cancer Awareness Week, this week is Endometriosis Awareness Week. March is also National Bed Month and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In fact there is a whole list of health awareness events on the EQUIP website, from the West Midlands Library Services Development Unit. The Department of Health, in its wisdom, no longer produces its list of events.

Awareness events aim to make people more aware of a particular disease or condition. They help raise funds for research and perhaps encourage people to come forward for screening. Awareness weeks are sometimes behind the odd stories in the press. I suspect that the recent story in the Mail on how a bad pillow can ruin your sleep makes might not have got into print were it not National Bed Month, although they didn't mention that in their article.

Do awareness campaigns work? Some people think they just give the worried well one more thing to fret about - and increase unnecessary trips to the GP's surgery. News coverage of the latest celeb to get breast cancer may send thousands of young women scuttling home to check their breasts, but it also skews their understanding of risk; the main risk factor for breast cancer is age.

With awareness comes ribbons - red for AIDs, pink for breast cancer - in fact there is a whole world of ribbon campaigns out there.

If you really want to be aware of all the latest health news then plug into our current awareness service. No ribbon required.

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