Sunday, March 1, 2015

MALAYSIA:::Beware the silent killers at work

THEY are known as the silent killers. The plethora of non-communicable diseases (NCD) creeping into our society must surely be cause for grave concern.
But it is not a new phenomenon. It is a problem that many developed and developing countries have to struggle with as increased prosperity brings about lifestyle changes that come with unhealthy ramifications.
The statistics that emerged from the 300,000-plus employees who went for the Socso free health screening do not reveal the whole picture.

But they are grim enough as they confirm the rising number of workers with obesity, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.
And Socso wants workers to take the screening seriously as some may not even be aware that they have these health problems. Early detection can help them make the necessary lifestyle changes before the condition gets worse.
What is clear, however, is that we do not have a healthy workforce. And the cost of taking care of those who fall sick while legally employed can be staggering.
As the Malaysian Employers Federation rightly points out, the trend on NCD is alarming and companies must take more proactive measures to promote healthier lifestyles among their employees.
There is now increasing global attention towards the prevention and control of NCD. We also have a National Strategic Plan for NCD that is in line with the resolutions and mandates made by the World Health Organisation.
But the battle goes beyond mere intentions charted out at the policy level.
All these measures will come to nothing if the people do not see the benefit of taking good care of themselves.
Everyone has a role to play to influence the behaviour of Malaysians in choosing healthy foods and in leading active lives.
A healthy lifestyle, with a well-balanced diet and exercise, should be the ultimate aim of all Malaysians. The alternative is both painful and costly.
Take India as an example. A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health has estimated that the economic burden due to NCD will be close to US$6.2 trillion for the period 2012-2030, a figure that is equivalent to nearly nine times the total health expenditure during the previous 19 years of US$710bil.
And the figures are even higher for China because of its higher income and older population.
The bottom line is that as we progress economically as a nation, we will be unnecessarily dragged down if we have to spend a lot to address the NCD problem.
Treating these diseases, or attempting to find “cures” for them, costs a fortune, as many developed countries like the United States have learnt.
We need to wake up and tell ourselves that these diseases are preventable. And we can prevent them the same way we cause them – through our lifestyle.
It’s possible to live long and healthy and keep NCD at bay. A proper diet and lots of exercise hold the key to keeping fit.
Let it not be said – the next time you have a sumptuous spread of delicious but unhealthy food before you – that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

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