‘An unhealthy lifestyle is a major cause of death countrywide’
DIABETES, stroke and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are among the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that account for 55.5% of deaths in the country.
This is according to Dr Gunvant Goolab, the principal executive officer of the Government Employees Medical Scheme.
“Diseases related to unhealthy lifestyles and poor diets represent a growing health and economic burden in South Africa that requires most urgent attention,” Goolab said.
He said there were growing challenges associated with NCDs.
“This figure is most sobering and highlights the challenge that NCDs pose to our country.
“Millions of South Africans suffer from, and are being treated for, NCDs. Aside from the immense suffering they cause, they represent a significant risk to the local healthcare sector, the successful implementation of National Health Insurance and the broader economy.”
“We as a country need to work together in a determined and coordinated manner while there is still time to do so if we are to mitigate the massive risk that these diseases pose to the sustainability of our entire healthcare system.”
Goolab said lifestyle choices, if not taken seriously, often lead to cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“These can include genetic predisposition, family history of a disease and a number of environmental factors.
“Many of the diseases can be attributed to the fact that people do not exercise, have unhealthy diets, use tobacco products excessively and binge drink.”
Goolab said the growing number of fast food restaurants in South Africa producing products that were loaded with sugar, carbohydrates, salt and saturated fats were worsening the conditions faced by healthcare facilities.
“Poverty also plays a role in this trend. Poorer people find it considerably more difficult to afford healthy foods.
“The government has been leading the way in addressing these problems through legislation aimed at reducing the content of unhealthy salt and sugars in our food,” he said.