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General News of Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Source: GNA

Keep to healthy lifestyles -Minister

Breman Asikuma (C/R), Dec. 20, GNA- Major Courage Quashigah, Minister of Health on Tuesday, called on all Ghanaians to keep to healthy lifestyles by eating the right food, exercising their bodies and keeping their environment clean.

He stated that Ghanaians would stay alive for long and healthy if they refrained from over reliance on drugs to cure themselves of sicknesses and rather prevent themselves against the causes of sicknesses.

Major Quashigah made the call at a ceremony to launch a pilot training programme on Regenerative Health and Nutrition Project (RHNP), at Breman Asikuma, capital of Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa (AOB) district, in the central region.

The RHNP is a new health policy developed by the Ministry of Health, which emphasizes on health promotion and prevention, and aims at improving the health status of Ghanaians through promoting healthy lifestyles with emphasis on nutrition.

The minister said as part of activities for the pilot programme, the Ministry of Health intends to collaborate with the district assemblies to establish change agents in the districts to facilitate the promotion of healthy lifestyles and nutrition.

Major Quashigah stated that the policy was adopted after understudying the Israelis who live long and healthy, because of their peculiar lifestyles, which is in conformity with eating the right food, exercising regularly and keeping their environment clean.

According to him he has seen a 74-year old woman taking part in a running exercise in Israel and that he was also shown a community in Israel, which had not recorded a single death, in a period of 38 years. He said it was in this regard that a number of specialists from Israel have been brought into the country, to spend a year, to assist in the education of Ghanaians about the RHNP and the creation of awareness on its benefits, to facilitate its acceptance by all.

The minister reiterated that if Ghana were to attain a middle-income status by the year 2015, it was imperative that the nation moved away from spending huge sums of money on drugs and rather save such money for investments.

According to him, Ghana spends more than 500 million dollars on malaria treatment alone in a year, and called for a new paradigm on health from curative to preventive, adding that the launching would be replicated in all the 138 districts to popularize it.

Major Quashigah, also had a meeting with the management and staff of Our Lady of Grace Hospital, to know their problems, among which were, the lack of a bus to convey staff to and from hospital and insufficient staff accommodation.

Mr P. C. Appiah Ofori, Member of Parliament of AOB constituency, for his part, said all the efforts government was making to develop the nation would be a fruitless venture if people did not keep to healthy lifestyles and lived long to benefit from those development projects. He in this regard advised the people to refrain from drug abuse and the use of hard drugs, whilst committing themselves to hygiene and environmental cleanliness to prolong their lives.

Mr Prince Emmanuel, head of the Israeli delegation, noted that Ghana has always been in the forefront of everything that is good in Africa, and that even though they came from Israel they feel proud to be associated with Ghana in the dissemination of the RHNP in the country. Mr Emmanuel Adjei Domson, district chief executive of AOB expressed gratitude to the ministry of health for choosing the district as the place to launch the pilot project, and promised that all efforts would be made to facilitate its popularity and acceptance.

Earlier, an early morning walk dubbed, "the walk of life", led by the minister was undertaken alongside some health workers, teachers, assembly members and a cross-section of the members of the public, through some streets of the town for 30 minutes, bearing placards. Some of the placards read, "exercise at least three times a week, exercise your body by turning, running and skipping, take some rest it is good for your heart, drink at least seven glasses of water a day, you are what you eat, and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables".

Later, Dr Elimele Ben Israel, a naturopathic doctor from Israel, talking to newsmen said the 15-member delegation, would be traveling to all parts of the country to share information on RHNP with the people. He said during their tour they would encourage the establishment of health clubs among the people, among others, and also urged them to live healthy lifestyles in order to live long and healthy.

Talking to the press too, Dr Edward Addai, director for policy planning and evaluation of the ministry of health, stated that health is not about what is happening in the hospitals, and advised people to live the life that would help them stay out of hospital.

According to him, people tended to weaken their bodies with what they ate and how they lived, adding that, people got malaria because their bodies were too weak to fight the malaria parasites. Dr Addai, who is also the RHNP project co-ordinator, therefore urged the people to ensure that their environment was always clean, stressing that, "anytime you looked at your environment, you should know that your life and healthy survival depended on it".