Take care of your health


LIFESTYLE diseases such as diabetes, cancers of the digestive tract, the liver and lungs as well as the ailments of the heart are on the rise in Papua New Guinea.
These diseases are robbing the country of many of its productive workers between the ages of 35 and 50.
For a fledgling economy such as PNG, that cannot be good news because it means more and more of our brightest and best talents are succumbing to preventable diseases and, thus, leaving voids in experience and quality in the nation’s educated and skilled workforce.
Almost every week, it seems, one will find in the obituaries column of the newspapers a death notice of a senior professional or some other middle management personnel who dies at what many in the first world would consider middle aged or younger.
Deaths, attributable to lifestyle diseases, of individuals barely in their 50s in cities and rural areas are becoming so commonplace that one would assume that the country’s life expectancy has surely taken a dip since independence.
Hence the need for regular health checks are important for identifying the early signs of health issues such as lifestyle diseases, a health worker says.
Badili Clinic in Moresby South, National Capital District, has a lifestyle disease programme under which free health checks are conducted every Thursday.
Health workers there say lifestyle diseases were on the rise in society as a result high dependence on processed food and drinks that had a high sugar content and a lack of exercise.
Most of common lifestyle diseases were all preventable and when advised about the risk factors, the individual could make changes to his or her diet and activities.
In fact, one would hasten to think that the generation of leaders that ushered PNG to Independence in the mid-1970s will probably outlive the generation that followed them.
At present, PNG is awash in a confluence of modern ways that has, over time, reaped a deadly remittance on the pleasures and conveniences it has provided.
The consumption of unhealthy foods, coupled with mostly sedentary jobs, has no doubt contributed to mortality rates in certain age groups.
What has been a major factor in the poor state of affairs in public health has been the blasé attitude many Papua New Guineans have to healthy living.
There is no strong focus (in public, in schools or workplaces) on living, eating and thinking to benefit all the aspects of the individual.
The amount of harmful fats (cholesterol and trans fats), sugars and poor quality protein and carbohydrates consumed on a daily basis is truly mind-blowing.
The big question here is: Are Papua New Guineans aware that how they live their lives everyday including what they eat, what they put into their bodies (smoking and drinking) and whether they exercise directly impacts their health, not just in the short term of a week or month or year but how they fare later in life?
If it has worked for our grandfathers, why not us?
Going back to village foods such as kaukau, yams, taro, vegetables and fish would seem an easy alternative for many in our urban areas and should be the mantra for a new and healthier PNG.