Sunday, 18 December 2011

Time for action before it is too late!

The diagram below shows us very bad news! According to the latest statistics made available by the National Statistics Office (Malta), 41% of the local population is overweight and 21% classified as obese.

Whilst this may be a source of amusement to some, it is of great concern from a healthcare administration point of view. Higher rates  of obesity are leading to  a higher incidence of diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and metabolic syndrome. CVD is already the primary cause of morbidity in the Maltese Islands, and even though data is not available presently, it is also quite likely the cause of the greatest proportion of per capita healthcare and pharmaceutical expenditure. Any increase in demand to an already straining and over-stretched public healthcare system is going to lead to disaster.

Unfortunately that is where we are heading. A comprehensive, cohesive and all-inclusive(re the health professionals and public and private sector NGOs and other organisations) national plan is required before it is too late. The money voted in the last few year s for a national campaign against obesity (€ 200,000) is insignificant in comparison to the task at hand. If necessary, unhealthy foods could be subjected to an additional surcharge, or at the least, the suppliers of foods above a certain calorific value could be forced to contribute to a fund utilised in health promotion campaigns. Schools, whether public or private should have strictly enforced physical education sessions, at a minimum number per week, with non-attendance a failing point, except for medical exemptions.

Despite the financial caution placed upon us by the times we live in, money must be invested now in order to safeguard the future of our generation and those to come after us, otherwise the healthcare system we know today will cease to exist, crushed under the epidemic of CVD disease that is just round the corner!

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