The need to adopt healthy living and eating habits has become keen to reduce the pressure on health facilities and workers as the world battles to contain and end the Coronavirus pandemic.
Healthy living is said to be having the opportunity, capability, and motivation to act in a way that positively affects an individual’s physical and mental well-being.
Health experts say, paying attention to what you eat, being physically active, and learning more about your food and you, can help you meet your health goals.
The 2022 World Health Day (WHD), to be observed on Thursday April 7, for instance, serves as a timely reminder of the complex link between the planet and our health, as the burden of non-communicable and infectious diseases rise alongside growing incidence of climate-related challenges.
The Day (WHD) has been observed annually since 1950, to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) and create awareness on health and wellbeing of people across the globe.
This year’s celebration is on the theme, “Our Planet, Our Health.”
The WHO estimates that, more than 13 million people die each year due to preventable environmental causes throughout the world.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a message on WHD, said climate change was negatively impacting air and water quality, food security, human habitat and shelter.
She said the knock-on effect for the burden of heart and lung disease, stroke, and cancer, among others, was evident from statistics that pointed to NCDs representing a growing proportion of Africa’s disease burden.
“In Africa, NCDs are set to overtake communicable diseases, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional conditions combined, to become the leading cause of death by 2030. COVID-19, along with spiraling obesity, diabetes and hypertension rates, compounds the challenge, highlighting the urgency of a multi-sectoral response,” she said.
In Ghana, the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Control Programme of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in the last three years recorded 1,772,801 hypertensive cases in health facilities across the country.
Out of those, 626,353 hypertensive cases were recorded in 2019, 596,613 in 2020 and 547,835 as of November 2021.
A total of 535,501 diabetic cases were recorded in the last three years of, which 178,037 cases were recorded in 2019, 174,192 in 2020 and 549,835 as of November 2021.
About 6,440 breast cancer cases were recorded in public health facilities within the same period.
Dr Afua Commey, the Deputy Programme Manager for Non-Communicable Diseases Control Programme, at the GHS, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that three NCDs- hypertension, diabetes and cancers could be described as the leading causes of morbidities and mortalities in the country.
Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are disease conditions that are not infectious and cannot be transmitted from one person to the other.
Dr Victor Winbe Abugri, a Family Physician Specialist and Head of Family Medicine Department at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital- Ridge, stressed the need for Ghanaians to take serious interest in their health and wellbeing.
“Our health is our greatest wealth, so we need to take good care of our health to protect our wealth,” he said.
Dr Abugri said it was important for the public to have routine medical checks, do health screening, and stop self-medication to avoid heart diseases, hypertension, and diabetes.
He stressed the need for individuals to have routine checkups at least once a year, saying, “people living in countries where wellness checkup is taken seriously have longer life span compared to countries that do not.”
For improved healthy living, the Physician advised the public to rest enough, drink plenty water and take time out of their busy schedules to exercise daily.
“We must watch our diets, reduce salt and sugar intake and eat more fruits. To control your diet, stay away from high energy snacks, avoid skipping breakfast and eating at odd hours to prevent obesity,” he said.
As Ghana joins the world to observe the World Health Day, tomorrow, the government, civil society, non-governmental organisations, and communities need to work together, to empower one another to ensure the continued delivery of essential health services during future extreme events, while containing the growing incidence of environment- and lifestyle-related diseases.