Preventative health as a lifestyle

Zumba at the Women’s Preventative Health Conference. | Photo courtesy of Eyoalha Baker

Zili, a non-profit organization, will hold the Women’s Preventative Health or Zili Conference on May 26, 2018 at the Vancouver Convention Centre to inform women about evidence-based preventative health, provide them with tools to take ownership of their health, and offer a platform to share ideas on how to make the healthcare system more effective.

The conference does not have pharmaceutical-based sponsors due to Zili’s core and brand values.

“We have an integrated pharmacy who is one our sponsors, but they are not allowed to promote their products which limits the amount of sponsorship we can have,” says Dr. Maryam Zeineddin, family physician and organizer of Zili.

The Zili movement

After about 10 years of practising medicine Dr. Zeineddin realized that the care she was providing to her patients was not to her standard. She decided to create the Zili movement (Zeineddin Improve Life Initiative), and focus on preventing illness rather than providing products that temporarily solve health problems.

“The easiest way was to create a platform for practitioners to come together with patients and promote more of a preventative lifestyle than a product,” she says.

The conference

The first annual conference was in June 2017.

“Last year, most speakers gave TED talk style presentations. It will be more collaborative this year with a Q&A session. We also have meditation seminars, yoga, Zumba and movement exercises,” says Dr. Zeineddin.

Dr. Maryam Zeineddin, founder of Zili. | Photo courtesy of Eyoalha Baker

Lori Brotto, an associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UBC, will be a keynote speaker at the conference. She will talk about women’s sexual health, share findings from her research, and debunk myths and stereotypes about women’s sexuality.

“There are still a lot of taboos about women’s sexuality,” Brotto discloses. “One in four women are affected, and they suffer in silence leading to many women getting misleading information from the Internet.”

Dr. Annie Chou, a cardiologist who spoke about heart disease in men and women at the conference in 2017, will be part of the physical, health screening and nutrition panel this year.

“Women are underrepresented in terms of research, disease recognition, and treatment implementation, and this was a wonderful opportunity for me to share how to prevent, recognize, and treat various heart conditions,” Dr. Chou explains.

She emphasizes the importance of heart health. A problem in the heart can translate into many other health concerns.

“A healthy heart is dependent on a good diet, regular exercise, stable mental health, smoking cessation, alcohol in moderation, and management of cardiac risks such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes,” Dr. Chou explains.

Dr. Sonya Kashyap, a reproductive endocrinologist, will also be part of the intention and purpose panel.

“These types of conferences existed for a long time, for example, for men, and this is a very appropriate time for women,” Dr. Kashyap says.

Dr. Zeineddin suggests that although the conference is tailored towards women, men should also attend it.

“Many speakers will talk about gender neutral topics, and the more men understand the mental and physical health in their women’s lives the better they could support them,” she says.

The six pillars of health

This year the conference will be focusing on the six pillars of health: health screening, physical activity, nutrition, mindfulness, connection, and intention and purpose. The health screening is preventative health and the knowledge of the age and time that a health screening would be suitable.

This year the heaviest weight will be pulled towards the three other pillars: mindfulness, connection, and intention and purpose. Mindfulness is living in the moment, and connection is about how a person is connected to their community and environment.

“Intention and purpose is about how you can be a contributor for your community. It’s about how we as global citizens can make intentions to create a change and support women locally and globally to take ownership of their health,” says Dr. Zeineddin.

Dr. Zeineddin also hopes to focus on other aspects of health, such as infrastructure and environmental sustainability, in the future.

“If you don’t have a proper infrastructure, you won’t be able to focus on your health,” says Dr. Zeineddin. “In a third world country when you are living in pollution and around garbage, it’s hard to be preaching prevention.”

She is also actively trying to find provincial and federal funding to launch a digital platform for Zili.

“I would like Zili to be the Google and Facebook of health prevention,” she says.

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