Promoting changed lifestyles for longevity
With non-communicable diseases (NCDs) sending people to an early death, a different kind of festival is to be organized at the Viharamahadevi Park on November 17.
Taking it as a responsibility to guide society onto a healthier pathway, the College of Community Physicians will organize a ‘Healthfest’ with innovative events, the Sunday Times understands.The Healthfest is not only to create a wave of demand and supply for healthier lifestyles among the people but also to give them healthy options, said Dr. Susie Perera, Director, Policy Analysis and Development in the Health Ministry who on Friday was inducted as the President of the College of Community Physicians. “Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke are being encountered at earlier ages,” Dr. Perera pointed out, stressing that it is a “huge challenge” the Health Ministry cannot tackle alone.
This is why she hopes to launch a two-pronged approach, through the 300-member College of Community Physicians, to educate men, women and children on prevention and early detection of NCDs, while advocating among manufacturers and the supply industry for healthier products.
Bringing the reality home, by giving hard facts and figures, Dr. Perera says that in Sri Lanka of the 350 deaths per day, 250 are due to NCDs of which as many as 150 are caused by heart disease.
The challenge, therefore, according to her, is to make sure that people know how their lifestyles are affecting their health and that they can change that to a certain extent. “As public health experts we can show the way and promote the adoption of healthy targets,” she explains, underscoring not only the need for people to change their lifestyles but also be given healthy options to choose from.
The key components of the Healthfest, the Sunday Times learns are the Youth Programme; a Healthy Food Menus Programme; an advocacy package for the corporate sector; a fun-filled carnival during which people will be able to visit trade stalls which provide healthy lifestyle options; promotion of homegrown healthy food and a pre-schoolers’ programme.Referring to the Youth Programme, Dr. Perera says that young CIMA achievers and Rotaractors together with the students of the Sri Jayewardhanapura University have volunteered to be ‘Youth Ambassadors’ to take the message about a healthier lifestyle to schools, universities and youth organizations.
“They are using the social media such as Facebook to spread the message about the recommended daily amount of sugar, avoidance of excess sugar and salt, healthy consumption of fat and eating five servings of fruit and vegetables,” she said, adding that a poster competition has been organized in Colombo schools through Interact Clubs and the relevant Head Prefects.
While the posters are to be exhibited at the Healthfest, the winners of a Triathlon will receive their prizes too at this event.
The College of Community Physicians is also promoting healthy snacks for schoolchildren and also at meetings held in offices by inviting recipes for such snacks. The recipes chosen are to be published as a book.
Meanwhile, the college is discussing with the private sector on the need to adopt healthy targets for their employees, while also supporting the Healthfest which will have a wider reach.
Citing an example, she said that the college is talking to the corporate sector on the need to reduce the sugar in beverages, especially fizzy drinks. “We are telling them that we don’t intend to shatter their industry but they must take it upon themselves to sell healthier products for the greater good of the country.”
Some private sector companies have already come forward with reconstituted products, says Dr. Perera. One product, at the Healthfest, will be iced green tea, a good source of anti-oxidants, with only a little sugar, unlike many other products which are laced with sugar.
Stressing that the wave of demand and supply for healthier lifestyles and healthier options will not die down after the November Healthfest, Dr. Perera said she and the college hope to engage all stakeholders in their bid to carry forward the programme for a healthier Sri Lanka.
For more information on the Healthfest, please contact Dr. Pubudu Amarasena on Tel. no. 0772647778 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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