Africa Celebrates Lifestyles Day Today

As Africa celebrates Africa Healthy Lifestyle Day on Friday, February 26, Ghanaians have been urged to commit themselves to healthy lifestyles and physical activity to stay healthy and live longer. "Younger and younger people are now suffering from hypertension, stroke and certain cancers. Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are often costly to treat and require lifelong treatment as many are not curable. And so the best approach is prevention," Dr Billy Bosu, Head of NCDs of Ghana Health Service (GHS) said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Thursday. The last Friday of February each year, has been set aside by the African Union Executive Council, as Africa Healthy Lifestyle Day under the theme the theme "Food, Fun and Fitness: Health is Wealth". The day, which was adopted within the framework of the World Health Organisation (WHO) strategy for prevention and control of NCDs, is based on the fact that Africa is not only plagued with the scourge of preventable communicable diseases, but also with NCDs, most of which can be prevented by adopting lifelong healthy eating lifestyle and physical activity; as well as regular medical assessment or screening. In addition, Africa is plagued with urbanisation coupled with loss of traditional plant-based diet in preference for energy-dense fatty fast-foods and compounded by physical inactivity, stress and lack of recreational spaces. Dr Bosu noted that government was committed to the prevention and control of NCDs and had emphasised health promotion in the current health policy and introduced a Regenerative Health and Nutrition Programme. "Let us strive to live longer and healthier. We all have a responsibility to each other and to the young ones. Let us enjoy our food, have fun in doing our physical activity and maintain our fitness. Remember that Health is Wealth," he said. In Ghana the common NCDs are hypertension and heart-related diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases. According to the GHS, hypertension and heart related diseases accounted for more than 14 per cent of deaths in the past few years, ahead of malaria which was responsible for 13 per cent of deaths. In some regions, hypertension is the second commonest new outpatient disease diagnosed in public health facilities. More than 700,000 cases of hypertension were recorded in 2009. Surveys in adult populations in Ghana indicate that 28 to 48 per cent have hypertension. Of those with hypertension, about 70 per cent are not aware they have the disease.In some surveys, about nine per cent of adults are found to have diabetes, with majority of them not being aware of their condition as these diseases often did not have any symptoms, hence, their nickname 'silent killers'.