Takudzwa Chiwereweshe Post Reporter
THE Ministry of Health and Child Care is urging the citizenry to engage in active lifestyles as a way to prevent and reduce non communicable diseases (NCDs) burden that has become a silent killer in the country.
NCDs include diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, hypertension and chronic respiratory diseases, among others.
Provincial medical director Dr Patron Mafaune said risky behaviour, poor food choices and less active lifestyles are exacerbating the situation.
Most chronic NCDs are preventable and if not, their onset can be delayed if risk factors such as smoking, alcohol, chewing betel leaves, obesity, unhealthy diet, high salt, sugar, trans fats, processed foods and sedentary lifestyles are addressed.
The ministry urges the public to take regular checks of blood sugar levels, blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) while providing medical advice against unhealthy food habits, consumption of alcohol and the use of cigarettes.
Regular exercises are strongly advocated for.
“Unhealthy lifestyles and risky behaviour are our biggest culprits when it comes to NCDs, and if left unchecked can develop into chronic diseases,” said Dr Mafaune.
“Effective NCD prevention and control requires collective action that cuts across age, gender, sexuality and even economics. People need to be sensitised on the need to adopt healthy lifestyle. Children need to be taught at an early age the importance of safe practices and also be encouraged to make safe and informed choices,” she said.
Dr Mafaune said there was need to accelerate training and education of the public on active lifestyle initiatives.
“There is a need for ongoing education and training of communities so that individuals are empowered to make informed decisions on their lifestyles. People need to know the benefits of active lifestyles as well as the repercussions of risky behavior and less active lifestyles,” said Dr Mafaune.
Provincial Administrator Mr Edgar Seenza said healthy lifestyles have positive impact on productivity and life expectancy as opposed to rehabilitation of those encumbered by chronic illnesses.
“Healthy lifestyles can curb loss of productivity and death in the country, as treatment of lifestyle diseases is generally very expensive and workers suffering from chronic illnesses spend extended periods away from work leading to a reduction in productivity.”
Mr Seenza said NCDs have the effect of increasing poverty as funds are diverted towards medical care and not towards development.
He said the Ministry of Health and Child Care should formulate and initiate healthy lifestyle programmes to influence positive behaviour change through the dissemination of accurate information that will enable members of the public to make informed decisions about lifestyle aspects.
“There is need for a paradigm shift in practices, attitudes and perceptions so as to accelerate NCDs prevention, control and treatment,” said Mr Seenza.