Mauritius: Promoting Cycling for Health, Environment Protection and Road Safety

All were set for the members of the public present at Roche Bois Youth Centre to start the road cycling activity 'Pédaler en toute securité, organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders on 13 May 2019. The objectives of the activity were to encourage the population to practice cycling on a regular basis as a leisure activity and for physical fitness. It also aimed at creating public awareness on road safety and cycling as a safe and healthy form of transportation. Hon. Mr Stephan Toussaint, Minister of Youth and Sports, Lord Mayor of Port Louis, Mr Daniel Laurent and Dr Laurent Musango, WHO Representative in Mauritius, all dressed in sports-wear and on their bike, started the cycling trip from Roche Bois Youth Centre to City Centre in Port Louis. People from different age group responded positively to the invitation and cycled some 14 kilometres in the streets of Port Louis.

Hon. S. Toussaint stated during this occasion that Mauritians should be able to use their bike 'en toute securité'. 'Cycling can be used as a safe mode of transport to reduce accidents. My ministry is promoting cycling as one of the means to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and subsequently reduce the number of accidents. It can help to protect the environment and thus contribute to building a healthy nation.' The Ministry of Youth and Sports is collaborating with the Ministry of Health in view of implementing health and road safety related policies.

The Lord Mayor of Port Louis, Mr Daniel Laurent, congratulated the Minister of Youth and Sports for this road cycling initiative. He added that such activity should not be 'a one-day event.' The latter added that the setting up of Cyclists Club in the localities around the capital of Port Louis would motivate the population to practice cycling on a regular basis.

Dr Laurent Musango, WHO Representative in Mauritius stated his appreciation on the organization of the cycling activity. He congratulated Minister Toussaint for implementing the 'National Sports and Physical Activity Policy'. 'WHO recommends an integrated approach to tackle national health issues. By involving different Ministries such as Youth and Sports, Health, Education, Gender, among others, and other concerned stakeholders, the country will be in a better position to tackle the national Non-communicable Diseases burden.' He also added, 'by promoting sports and physical activity in the country, we are contributing to the prevention of NCDs.'

'Sport is one of the medicines that can improve health' said Dr Musango who also highlighted that 'when you start early, you can prevent NCDs. However, if you have one of the NCDs, practicing physical activity on a regular basis will still help you to prevent other NCDs and complications related to them.' In other words, you always win. The latter said that it is important to start practicing a sport or any physical activity on a regular basis as 'sports can help to prevent NCDs and it can be used by anyone, everywhere.' The WHO Representative in Mauritius made an appeal to the population to participate in such important activity for their own benefit.

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