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Carnival raises health awareness, concerns


RISING CONCERN: Health Ministry to go on offensive to curb rise of non-communicable diseases and smokers in the country

 MUAR: MORE than 6,000 visited a carnival that was recently held to promote a healthy lifestyle, in Tanjung Emas.

  "Karnival Jelajah Sihat Komuniti dan Program 10,000 Langkah Merdeka" (Healthy Community Tour Carnival and 10,000-step Merdeka Programme) was to raise awareness of health dangers such as obesity and smoking and related issues.

  Deputy Youth and Sports Minister and Muar MP Datuk Razali Ibrahim was the guest-of-honour at the opening of the carnival.

  He said the 10,000-step programme was to encourage the community to make exercise a part of their daily routine through taking a brisk walk or a jog.

  He said the programme was to help the people reduce risks of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer of large intestine, lung and prostate, high cholesterol level, high blood pressure, obesity and stress-induced sicknesses.

  "To promote a healthy lifestyle, the government has initiated many programmes, including one to encourage the eating of more vegetables and fruits.

"This should be combined with regular exercise to make sure we are in the pink of health."

  Razali said the government, through the Health Ministry, would soon launch several programmes under its National Strategic Plan for Non-Communicable Diseases (NSP-NCD).

  The plan is relevant as the Third National Health and Morbidity survey in 2006 showed that 29.1 per cent of Malaysians aged over 18 were overweight. That is a sharp rise from the 16.6 per cent the survey showed in 1996.

  He said the survey also revealed an increase in obesity in Malaysians, from 4.4 per cent in 1996 to 14.2 per cent in 2006.

  Razali said according to the Malaysian NCD Surveillance 2005/2006, obesity in 2,572 Malaysians between the ages of 25 and 64 was 48.6 per cent.   

  He said the NCD Surveilllance also revealed that diabetes was also on the rise in Malaysia, with 14.9 percent of adults over 30 years old suffering from the disease compared with 8.3 per cent in 1996.

  The number of Malaysians with high-blood pressure also shot up to 43 per cent in 2006, from 33 per cent in 1996.

  Razali said NCDs such as cardiovascular disorder, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory sickness caused death to the victims and loss and hardship to surviving family members.

They also affect national productivity.

The good news is, such diseases can be held in check with with good health practices and without much cost, he said.

  "Malaysians are overburdened with work, resulting in less time for relaxation. Restaurants are mushrooming and influencing the way the people eat. Among the health problems are obesity in adults as well as children "

  Smoking also came under fire. Booths displayed information about the bad habit, including the diseases it caused.

   According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) Malaysia 2011, the number of smokers stood at 4.7 million, or 23.1 per cent, aged 15 and above.

  Razali said the Health Ministry would intensify no-smoking campaigns this year for the sake of non-smokers.

  He said more public and work places would be designated as no-smoking zones.

  Also present at the carnival were Muar District Officer Abdul Rahman Dewam, Muar Municipal Council president Zulkiflee Abbas and Special Officer appointed by Menteri Besar Chris Lee Ching Yong.

Datuk Razali Ibrahim (seated, left) and Chris Lee Ching Yong (second from left) discuss health with senior health officers at the carnival. Pic by Chong Chee Seong

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