2016 Health resolutions: Building a healthier Western Cape

By Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Minister of Health:

The Western Cape Health Minister, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, has encouraged citizens of the Western to adopt a healthier lifestyle in 2016.

An increasing number of people including children are following an unhealthy diet and are not physically active. As a result more and more people are suffering from chronic diseases of lifestyle.

“There is a misconception that healthy eating and physical activity is not affordable or unattainable for most people in our communities. This is simply not true. There are inexpensive ways that people can kick start their road to wellness.” Says Minister Mbombo

The Western Cape Department of Health serves close to 75% of the population; a third of which suffers from chronic diseases. Setting health goals early in the New Year is a good way to start changing lifestyle habits.

Healthy living, eating and physical activity are considered major contributors to combat adverse health outcomes including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

Increasingly patients present at our facilities with more than one of the “quadruple burden of diseases” (e.g TB, HIV, Hypertension and Diabetes, dread diseases such as cancers and injuries due to interpersonal violence). This places enormous stress on our facilities and resources: many are time consuming and expensive to treat. They lead to many follow-up visits and the use of chronic medication. In many cases, a healthy lifestyle can contribute greatly towards prevention or improved condition of the patient – thus relying not only on medication to treat the disease.

Going forward, pressure on the health system is unlikely to decrease. By playing an active role in their own health, patients can take proactive steps to prevent illness and ensure quality of life.

Here are some practical health tips for 2016:

Physical activity – Walk towards a healthier you

  •  Walking is easy, free and does not need special equipment
  • It is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels
  • It can help reduce: blood pressure, risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
  • Make walking part of your daily routine: take the stairs instead of the escalator/lift; walk to shops; when using public transport, get of one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way
  • Participate in public fun walks

Healthy eating – Make small changes to your diet

  • Drink lots of clean, safe water
  • Eat less sugar and avoid drinks high in sugar
  • Eat less fat and avoid fried foods
  • Add less salt to your food and avoid processed foods high in salt
  • Try eat more fruits and vegetables per day

The Western Cape Government is determined to build a healthy, resilient and wellness conscious society, and that is why the Department of Health has developed Western Cape on Wellness (WOW) in 2015.

WOW! Is focused on encouraging healthy eating and physical activity. There are currently over 800 WOW members across the Metro. This project has shown great success and has been well received across all communities.

WOW is currently active in the workplace across all provincial government departments, schools and in communities.

For 2016, WOW is planning free public mass events on Wednesdays – a City-based pilot.

We will also develop WoW! School Days at Cape Town Station in partnership with Metrorail Western Cape.

WoW! Seniors events took place in 2015, in partnership with Metrorail Western Cape and others. A total of 169 seniors across the Metro participated in this pilot. These events included chair-based exercise, salt reduction interactive discussion, chair-based massage and balance screening by physiotherapists, line dancing, diabetes and financial wellness, and foot pressure assessments.

We want to expand the foot print of wellness and therefore we will embark on a “People First Campaign”, taking the message of wellness to every corner of this province.

We will engage with communities, civil organisations and service users in public spaces on the importance of living healthy lifestyles and how to be wellness ambassodors.

“It is important that people take responsibility for their health and actively start changing lifestyle habits. Together we can build a healthy, wellness conscious society in the Western Cape” says Mbombo.