Friday, December 16, 2011

Rising NCD figures in health survey alarming, says Liow. Star 16th Dec 2011

I have just read my STAR. I read it to keep up with the medical news given by Bernama, and also for the sports. The rest are not worth reading. Anyway, that is another story for another day.
In this morning's Star, The Minister of Health has un-veiled the results of the 4th National Health and Morbidity Survey 2010 ( I presume ).
He mentioned that half of the adult Malaysian population is either over-weight or obese, 30% are hypertensive, and about 20% of adults above 30years of age are diabetic. Only about 7.5% follow a Mediterranean, DASH kind diet and about 65% exercise.
It is always nice to have numbers, so that we know what we are targetting and also know our progress. The numbers are like that of an average developed country ( maybe a touch less ), and a bit higher than a developing country.
The minister also announce the appointment of three 1Malaysia Health ambassadors to encourage Malaysians to adopt healthy lifestyles.
Although I like the numbers given very much, as it helps us health professionals to talk to our patients, I must say that I was rather upset that I could not get a copy of the 4th NHMS results. I suppose it is more important for the minister to announce it than for the medical professional community to study it and have it subjected to peer review. I would like to see the sample size and how the survey was done, to see if it was done properly and whether it can be relied upon. We do not wish to have a system of rubbish in, rubbish out. Politicians are not the best people to judge the validity of a health survey.
We are all very concerned about the rising trend of NCD ( non communicable diseases ), or lifestyle diseases. How should we approach this problem?
Surely, appointing more PR people is not the way to go, or maybe that is not an effective way to go. It would have been more useful, as we have suggested previously, to the last minister of health, to have a concerted effort of mass media and school education, food labelling, and promotion of exercises through having more and safer parks and fields. Whether or not we should stop labelling Malaysia as a food haven, where all kinds of unhealthy food ( like nasi lemak ), are touted as food "that cannot be missed". When certain quarters objected to branding nasi lemak as unhealthy food ( which it is ), the government withdraws and say that there is nothing wrong with nasi lemak ( there is everything wrong, health-wise ), it shows that there is no political will to do the right thing. I can also say the same about roti canai, teh tarik, hokkien mee, and bah kut teh. Do you get the drift. It is not racial. It is for healthy lifestyle.
Teach the children, label the foods so that we know what we are eating. Tax unhealthy food higher, so that we are guided by our pockets to eat healthily. Call it sin food tax. Keep politics out of food, exercise and health.
To reduce NCDs by 15% in the next 10 years, is possible?, I doubt it. I suppose not with this government.

No comments: