Despite the fact that they are preventable, Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have become the world’s biggest killers and are one of the major challenges to development in the 21st century.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative, Dr Eugene Nyarko, says that NCDs are responsible for the death of 3 out of 5 people in the world, which translates to approximately 36 million deaths annually, and represents 63 percent of all deaths worldwide”.
Nyarko was speaking at the occasion of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)’s Healthy Lifestyle Day that was commemorated for the first time in Botswana at Letlhakeng on Friday, under the theme, “A Healthy Lifestyle Prolongs Your Life”.
Nyarko observed that the theme chosen was very appropriate.
“This implies that if you do the right things like physical exercise, reduce alcohol intake, tobacco consumption, sugar and salt intake, reduce processed less nutritious foods and eat more vegetables and fruits, it will prolong your life.”
He warned that these diseases and health conditions are fast becoming a threat to human existence. They weigh heavily on incomes of families and economies of countries and have huge social and developmental consequences.
The Guest Speaker at the event, Assistant minister of Health, Gaotlhabaphiri Matlhabaphiri, told guests, “SADC adopted the day in line with the decision by the African Union Executive Council meeting of July 2008.”
He said the day has been dedicated to reminding people of the region of preventable diseases that arise from unhealthy habits.
“The driving force of the commemoration is to advocate for ways and means of preventing and reducing the impact of NCDs by inculcating healthy lifestyles in the daily lives of our people.”
The minister stressed that Non-Communicable Diseases are largely preventable and advised that adapting healthy lifestyles can prevent premature deaths.
“In Botswana different studies and surveys have shown an increasing trend of NCDs and more people are involved in risky behaviours such as tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.”
Matlhabaphiri urged the guests and the public to take a proactive stand and modify their lifestyles. “Visit health facilities for screening, early detection and treatment,” he said.
Africa Healthy Lifestyle Day is commemorated during the last Friday of February every year.
Botswana as a middle-income country and is experiencing a double burden of the increase of Non Communicable Diseases, high prevalence of the infectious diseases, including HIV / AIDS.
It is well documented that NCDs can be prevented, and that the four major NCDs, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases share modifiable risk factors.
Activities of the day included screening for some of the common risk factors for NCDs such as high blood pressure, being overweight, obesity and high blood sugar.
Entertainment was provided by Botswana Police Band, Letlhakeng Village Choir as well as House of Men drama group.
Guests were treated to healthy snacks of boiled maize (kabu) and fruits.