Solve social inequalities, cautions WHO
Poverty and poor health goes hand-in-hand therefore government should make good policy decisions in order to solve social problems, said Dr Magaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), at a parliamentary visit during her four-day stay in the country, recently.
Chan said that protests against inequalities in income levels, opportunities and access to services, can topple governments.
“You have plans to stimulate economic growth, but you also have plans to ensure that the benefits of this growth are fairly and evenly distributed,” she said.
Addressing parliamentarians, Chan urged government to practice and continue practising good governance as it will reduce social injustice.
Regarding Namibia’s achievements in fighting diseases such as Malaria and HIV/AIDS, Chan said that although Namibia has achieved low levels of Malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB transmissions, the government should be on the lookout for conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and cancers.
“Get on top of these chronic non-communicable diseases as quickly as you can, especially through approaches that stress population-wide prevention,” said Chan.
She further said that as Namibia imports most of its food, the country should watch out for processed foods that are loaded with fats, sugar, and salt, while lacking essential nutrients.
“These cheap and convenient foods will aggravate childhood under-nutrition and quickly bring you an epidemic of obesity in older children and adults,” Chan said.
She added that these increasing rates of obesity lead to heart disease, hypertension, stroke, several diet-related cancers, and most especially diabetes which account for half of all global disability.
Chan also alluded to the fact that Namibia has received international recognition for its success in rolling out anti-retroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS patients.
“Such a high level of government commitment is rarely seen elsewhere in Africa, and is a major factor behind this success,” she said.
Chan also encouraged the government to keep on fighting Malaria.