Walking the talk to prevent NCDs

Participants from various sectors walked 3 km from MoH to YDF

LHAKPA TSHERING

Thimphu

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart diseases, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases, are the leading cause of death worldwide, in which high dietary salt intake is the leading risk factor.

To prevent and control the epidemics of NCDs, the Bhutan Youth Development Fund (YDF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) country office in Bhutan observed a Walk the Talk exercise on 18 June.

The event themed; ‘reduce salt, beat noncommunicable diseases’ was graced by Her Majesty Gyalyum Tseyring Pem Wangchuck, and Their Royal Highnesses in recognition of the gravity of this issue in the country.

And to create awareness of the importance of physical activity and dietary habits with a focus on reducing salt consumption, participants from various sectors, agencies, and non-government organizations walked 3 km, starting from the MoH to YDF.

Health minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said that addressing NCDs would require a whole-of-government and society approach, given that the risk factors are strongly rooted in personal habits and choices.

As an advocate of Health in All Policies, Lyonpo said, she strongly believes that health is everyone’s business and that a nation with a healthy population can aspire to achieve anything that it sets its goals on.

Lyonpo said she hopes the event held across the country by the Youth Volunteers in Action (YVIA) will inspire and trigger the desired behavioral change in young people.

Deaths from NCDs – premature deaths from heart diseases, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases – in the country accounts for about 70 percent because of unhealthy lifestyles, such as physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol, tobacco use, and exposure to air pollution.

WHO Representative to Bhutan Dr. Rui Paulo de Jesus said the youth’s participation in Walk the Talk stimulates healthy behavior change, such as promotion of physical activity, and healthy food habits, among others in the community.

He added that this is an important long-term investment to prevent epidemics of noncommunicable diseases in the country.

In addition, Dr. Rui also said that the engagements and contributions from individuals, multiple sectors, NGOs/CSOs will be critical to the success in addressing epidemics of NCDs.

According to the 2019 STEPS Survey on NCD risk factors in the country, Bhutanese consume an average of 8.3gms of salt a day, which is higher than WHO’s the recommendation of less than 5gms a day.

It states that salt is responsible for elevating blood pressure and therefore, hypertension, the main cause of heart-related deaths globally.