O my gosh! NCDs sound like a group of aliens. Yeah, it is a big monstrous triple worded entity. However, as a layman, you would probably grasp the meaning better if I remind you of the song entitled, ‘Killing me softly with his song’. NCDs are somewhat like this song. You enjoy something you habitually do or eat that kills you softly and slowly. They are lifestyle diseases that are very much akin to committing a slow suicide.
NCDs or Non-Communicable Diseases are diseases that are not caused by infectious agents such as bacteria or viruses. They are chronic diseases that progress slowly and last for long periods of time.
NCDs are the leading cause of death globally, killing more than 40 million people each year. That is slightly over 70 percent or two third of the annual global death. It means seven out of ten of us are going to die of NCDs when our time is up, unless something is done to change the figure.
In communicable diseases, the victims are killed by another living infective microorganism, usually one of the bacteria or viruses. In NCDs, we kill ourselves, and we do it slowly. In other words, seven out of ten of us are committing slow but progressive suicide. It appears that many of us are not aware about this, or are we in a state of denial? The fight against NCDs is a fight against ourselves – our bad habits of continuing to do something detrimental to our own health.
Heart and blood vessel diseases especially heart attacks and strokes are the top killers, killing 18 million people annually, followed by cancers – 9 million, lung and airway diseases – 4 million and diabetes – 1.6 million, annually. These four groups of killers account for more than 80 percent of premature NCD deaths. The truth is, these premature deaths are preventable. We can prevent them. Why are we not doing it?
Let us get serious about them. We need to get to the root of these diseases. Look closely at their causes. They are largely LIFESTYLE DISEASES. That means it boils down to something we do every day. Yes, it is largely what we eat and how we live our lives. I have said this many times. I have to say it again and again until these words sink deeply into the minds of those who need them so much. Or, would they rather wait for their first heart attack, stroke or cancer to happen first? I am sure these are on their way to strike anytime from now, often with no warning.
What we eat and how we live our life are LEARNED BEHAVIOUR. If these can be learned, we can UNLEARN them. Why do we live our life so precariously all this time? Why are we continuing to feed poisons into the systems that maintain our health and life? How long are we going to go on like this? It is time to change – to do something great and beneficial to ourselves, before it is too late. Do it now. We ought to care for ourselves so that we can live longer and healthier to continue loving and caring for our loved ones and friends.
To be effective, we ought to be specific. We ought to know the root causes of these diseases and address them accordingly. Let’s pin them down and give them a bad name so that our emotional mind will slowly learn to look at them with an increasing degree of dislike. I call them, “The Six Satanic Ss that make us sick”. They are Smoking, Sedentary lifestyle (Sitting disease), Sipping alcohol, Sugar, Salt and Stress. Too much of any of these is bad for health. As for cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, stopping them all together would be ideal. Tackle these addictions and you shall be on your way out of the hook that hangs your life precariously on a thin line that may snap anytime, anywhere.
Sadly, our life is uncertain. But death is. So, take good care. Mitigate all the risk factors that are in us or surrounding us. Do whatever you can to increase the probability of living longer and healthier. Leave the rest to Karma, or God if you like.
Being a family physician, I do what I preach. Thus, I have crushed The Six Satanic Ss. I am qualified and ready to advise and motivate anyone needing help towards beneficial changes. Many have done it under my guidance. Trust me, it is not that difficult. Once you change your mindset, often with a little professional coaching, you can manoeuver your way out of the problems. Do consult any of the physicians who steadfastly believe in promoting better health and life through lifestyle modification.
Our youths today are our leaders tomorrow. Thus, we should not neglect them. They constitute a big number. NCDs are especially important for young people. Look at these facts: Two thirds of premature deaths in adults happened to those who had childhood behaviours associated with NCD risk factors. Forty million children under five years old are overweight or obese. Over 150 million young people smoke. Eighty percent of adolescents lack physical activity and 12 percent partake in heavy episodic alcohol drinking.
Overcoming youth behaviours associated with NCDs risks will greatly reduce the NCDs burden. Thus, they should be cared for, offered the necessary health information, guidance and health services to tackle their problems related to the risk of NCDs. Start working on them as early as possible.
Lastly, let me highlight the common practice of targeting young people by companies advertising unhealthy food, tobacco and alcohol use. This is most unethical and irresponsible. Why should they prey on these innocent adolescents? They should be banned by responsible governments all over the world.
My next column will be on ‘Menopause and climacteric changes’
Dr. Victor Ti, MD, MFAM (Malaysia), FRACGP (Australia), Dip P Dermatology (UK), Dip STDs/AIDS (Thailand), Dip. AARAM (USA), LCP of Aesthetic Med.(Malaysia) is an experienced expat specialist generalist (Family Physician) of BH Clinic, Phnom Penh. As a specialist generalist, he is skillful at diagnosing all general diseases and excluding the sinister ones. Apart from the general diseases, Dr. Victor is also known for his skill in skin diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, minor surgery and aesthetic medicine. He can be contacted via email [email protected]
Tel: 023900446 or Whatsapp: +60164122977