Health minister’s World Heart Day Message -‘Let’s make our heart health a top priority’


29-September-2011

This comes in Dr Athanasius’ message on the occasion of World Heart Day today.Dr Athanasius
The following is the full text of Dr Athanasius’ message:

“Today 29th September is World Heart Day. ’One World, One Home, One Heart’ is the theme chosen for this year.
“The theme is aimed at encouraging initiatives to improve healthy habits at home, in workplaces, in the community, and globally, in order to reduce heart disease and stroke.

“Non communicable diseases (NCDs) which include mainly cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease, cause 60% of all deaths globally and 80% of these are in low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Organisation projects that globally NCD deaths will increase by 17% over the next 10 years.

“In Seychelles, deaths due to heart attacks and strokes, account for 40% of deaths every year, and this situation is alarming. NCDs are not only a threat to health but also to development. The World Economic Forum has warned that, by 2025, poor and middle-income countries will lose as much as $7.3 trillion of their annual output -- an annual loss of about 4% -- because of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and lung disease.

“Hence, NCDs represent a tsunami that threatens to overwhelm healthcare systems worldwide, including here in our beloved Seychelles, unless action is taken. This tsunami did not occur in a day, but evolved slowly over the last few decades, in parallel with some changes in our societies that favored, through various mechanisms, tobacco use, sedentary habits and excess consumption of unhealthy, processed foods.

The crisis of non communicable diseases, as this has been called during a meeting of the General Assembly at the United Nations two weeks ago, must be addressed with strong measures if we are to curb the current trends.

“Effective interventions for prevention exist. Evidence shows that up to 80% of NCDs can be prevented by public health interventions promoting healthy diet, physical activity and non tobacco use in the population, and by using cost-effective treatment in persons at high risk.

The Seychelles Government has taken the NCD problem seriously for the past decades. Several strong measures have been taken to enable a healthier environment conducive to healthier practices at public places, workplaces and in schools. Smoking has been banned in all enclosed public and work places and in many outdoor premises, and direct and indirect tobacco advertising is prohibited.

These continued efforts have been successful, with the prevalence of people smoking on the decrease. However, our fight against being overweight, a major cause of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, remain critical issues in Seychelles and all other countries in the world.  Some measures have been taken, but more measures need to be addressed, including fiscal interventions and other incentives to effectively promote healthy foods and discourage unhealthy ones.

“While it is critical that policy makers and global leaders implement measures that address the root of the problem of chronic diseases, every person should also make efforts to take concrete steps to adopt a healthy lifestyle and nutrition. Let us cut down on the size of our plates, soft drinks and snacks, let us refrain from smoking, let us walk or exercise more.

Let us join together to take such steps at work, at school and at home. And let us start today!

“I therefore call on individuals and families to take up this challenge and make our Heart Health a top priority every day, in everything we do, in order to live longer and healthier lives.”

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