Reducing risks of non-communicable diseases
Siti Hajar

THE country’s efforts in combating non-communicable diseases (NCD) are one battle that is not being fought alone. The 10-member regional bloc yesterday adopted a declaration voicing their support to work towards creating not just a grouping that is politically, socially and economically strong but also promoting a healthier region for its people.

In a move supported by the member nations during the 23rd Asean Summit chaired by Brunei Darussalam, the leaders stated they were “deeply concerned” by the worrying trends of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, which have been pegged as being the leading cause of death within the region.

As the leaders noted that more and more of the younger generation from low and middle-income members are the ones most affected by premature mortality from NCD, it was stressed that there is an “urgent need to accelerate actions to reduce risk factors” such as high blood pressure, blood-sugar and cholesterol levels as well as being overweight and obese along with behavioural risk factors that include smoking, unhealthy diets, harmful use of alcohol and physical inactivity.

Known as the Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on NCD in Asean, the document also noted that NCD’s are often associated with mental disorders and towards the facilitation of early detection and primary prevention of diseases that fall under this category, leaders had sought “intensified efforts to promote the screening of people at risk” and to improve early management and to address complications, they had called for strengthened health systems that incorporate the principles of universal health coverage.

Among those who play a crucial role in overcoming this upward trend that has been deemed a factor contributing to loss of productivity whilst at the same time carrying social and economic consequences, pointed the leaders, are those dealing with the food and beverage industries who have been urged to provide healthier food choices and making them available, accessible and increase uptake of options throughout the community. - Borneo Bulletin (10 October 2013)