Com­mu­nity groups pro­mote healthy habits

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

Shang­hai res­i­dent Guo Jincheng (cen­ter) presents hand­writ­ten cou­plets to rep­re­sen­ta­tives at his com­mu­nity health man­age­ment group on Wed­nes­day.

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