Community groups promote healthy habits
Shanghai resident Liu Yufang, who was a smoker for 51 years and believed he was unable to quit, finally gave up the habit two years ago at the age of 69.
Liu attributed his success to a community health management group, which was established as part of a program initiated by the city government to help promote health literacy and manage public health through mutual assistance.
“The group shares knowledge on health when we meet each week. Gradually, I developed the motivation to stop smoking,” Liu said onWednesday when participants of the ongoing Ninth Global Conference on Health Promotion in Shanghai paid a visit to the group that has an activity room in the community activity center of Yanji subdistrict in the city’s Yangpu district.
This is just one of 26,000 such groups involving a total of 440,000 residents in Shanghai. The participants regularly attend health lectures by community hospitals on chronic disease intervention, the risks of excessive oil and salt intake, and smoking, and they share information and experiences about healthy diets and physical exercise.
Xiao Feng, head of Yanji subdistrict, said 4 million yuan ($600,000) is invested in the project every year to promote residents’ health literacy. The initiative was adopted in 2007 when the country’s top health authority found a rising number of people were suffering from chronic diseases.
Statistics from the Chinese Center for Disease Controland Prevention showed that chronic diseases were causing nearly 87 percent of deaths.
“We hoped to fight the rising number of deaths from chronic diseases by promoting healthy lifestyles, starting with diet and physical exercise,” said Liang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the Chinese CDC.
By the end of last year, 240,000 people had volunteered to promote health literacy in their communities and in manuals, while health guidance tools, such as small spoons designed to help people measure their salt intake, have been distributed to households in cities and rural regions.
Zuo Yi, deputy director of the Health and Family Planning Commission of Shandong province, said the health authority in the eastern province, where people consume large amounts of pickled food, spent five years attempting to reduce residents’ salt intake. In 2011, the average salt intake of residents was 12.5 grams a day, more than double the World Health Organization’s suggested amount. However, salt intake last year averaged 10.1 g daily.
Nearly 25 percent of adults in the province suffered from hypertension in 2011, but the
The group shares knowledge on health when we meet each week. Gradually, I developed the motivation to stop smoking.”
Shanghai resident who joined a community health management group
Liu Yufang, figure dropped to 22 percent last year.
“This was achieved by urging restaurants, families and schools to reduce salt intake. All primary and high school students attended a course on the risks of excessive salt intake, and the children were urged to pass on the information to their families,” Zuo said.
Rana Flowers, UNICEF representative in China, said using social media to reach more people to raise health awareness has been effective. “We have actressMa Yili working with us to promote breastfeeding. She once recorded a video of herself breast-feeding on a train, which gained tens of millions of views and tens of thousands of comments, with people showing support for breast-feeding and talking about its importance,” Flowers said.
Shanghai resident Guo Jincheng (center) presents handwritten couplets to representatives at his community health management group on Wednesday.