The 22nd of February is National Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Day. If this is the first time you’ve heard of it, here’s a quick summary: The day has been set aside by government to encourage South Africans from all walks of life to participate in the promotion of good nutrition, regular physical activity, tobacco control, interventions against alcohol and substance abuse, and the promotion of safe sexual behaviour. In addition, it tackles the dangers of obesity, an unhealthy diet and physical inactivity as risk factors, by promoting health and wellbeing.
Says Allison Vienings, Executive Director of the Self-Medication Manufacturers Association of South Africa (SMASA), an independent organisation committed to promoting responsible self-care and self-medication to the South African public, “Lifestyle or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, high blood cholesterol and diabetes account for some 35% of annual deaths in South Africa, and consume substantial proportions of healthcare resources. Worldwide, there is an 11% relative increase in burden from NCDs forecast for the next 20 years, with the greatest increase projected to be in Africa. For these reasons, SMASA puts its full support behind initiatives such as National Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Day and is committed to creating awareness about the importance of self-care through International Self-Care Day.”
International Self-Care Day takes place on the 24th of July each year. It encourages individuals to not only make smarter choices when it comes to their health, but also to take responsibility for their healthcare, with the aim of improving their overall health and wellbeing. Interestingly, the date itself reflects the campaign’s core message – that self-care should be experienced 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or 24/7.
“NCDs are preventable in up to 80% of cases,” continues Vienings, “And it starts with leading a healthy lifestyle. Begin by assessing your current health status, then ensure that you’re getting the right treatment for any chronic health problems. Next, focus on key factors such as getting active, examining your diet, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and keeping your mind active. And finally, be proactive about your self-care – in combination with a healthy lifestyle, it goes a long way towards combating minor illness and long-term health issues.”
With over 100,000 non-prescription or over the counter (OTC) medicines currently available, and self-care knowledge easily accessible, South Africans are well equipped to stay healthy, and save money.