The national prevention campaign against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), an initiative of the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, was launched yesterday at Goodlands in the presence of the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Dr Anwar Husnoo, the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, Mr Ashit Gungah, and other eminent personalities.
The campaign aims at sensitising and educating the public against the risk-related factors, complications and prevention measures of NCDs. It comprises a series of activities namely screening for NCDs, breast cervical, vision, cholesterol, as well as counselling and health education.
In his address, Dr Anwar Husnoo, underlined that an early detection of NCDs is fundamental to prevent diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer and their related complications. The population, he emphasised, should adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as practice sports to improve the management of NCDs, and promote the health status of the population.
Speaking about the link between food habits and the prevalence of NCDs, the Health Minister pointed out that rapid changes in diets as well as lifestyles due to industrialisation, urbanisation, economic development and market globalisation, have accelerated over the past decade. This has resulted, he underpinned, in significant negative consequences in terms of inappropriate dietary patterns, decreased physical activities and increased tobacco use, and a corresponding increase in diet-related chronic diseases. He urged the population to have a healthier diet and to practice a physical activity so as to achieve the best results in preventing chronic diseases.
He also expressed concern over the increasing number of new cases of cancer each year. In 2017, there were 2 500 new cancer cases, 1 500 among females and 1 000 among men, with breast cancer topping the list. Regular exercise and a healthy and balanced diet can reduce the incidence of cancer, he underlined.
Referring to the prevention campaign, Minister Husnoo highlighted that NCDs is the leading cause of death in Mauritius, adding that the campaign will help raise awareness of NCDs at national level and make Mauritius a physically active and healthy nation. He also pointed out that his Ministry is continuously working on programmes to provide free medical check-ups to the public as well as to encourage the population to practise physical activities and adopt healthy eating habits.
For his part, the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, Mr Ashit Gungah, said that the campaign will help inhabitants of the north to know their health status and to take necessary precautionary measures so as to stay in good health. He observed that unhealthy food habits, sedentary lifestyles and lack of physical activity are the main causes of NCDs while adding that young people are more at risk in view of the unhealthy lifestyles they have adopted.
Minister Gungah emphasised that habits such as lack of exercising, smoking, drug use and alcohol consumption have increased over time. Therefore, it is important to target these risky behaviours together, and early, before they become habits, he stated. He therefore urged the population to be more active, to eat healthier meals and to have regular checkups.
The Prevention against NCDs Programme
In 2017, the programme was carried out by the Mobile Clinic in the community and at worksites in all five health regions whereby 48 595 persons were reached and 29,850 persons were screened for the year 2017 according to guidelines (Mauritius Diabetes Risk Score). The remaining 4 245 persons were provided with health education/ counselling on NCDs and healthy lifestyle.
The Mobile Clinic provides people with an opportunity for early diagnosis of risk factors of NCDs, and also for timely treatment, thus ensuring that people remain in good health, while those with risk factors of NCDs receive appropriate advice and treatment.
The objectives of the Mobile Clinic are to make early detection of NCDs; help reduce gradually the incidence of NCDs; screen people aged 18 years and above who are not following treatment for any NCDs; screen workers at their worksites without their having to be absent from work; and enhance health education and public awareness.