The journey towards a healthier tomorrow is the collective responsibility of government and community, says Lindiwe Magazulwe, the wellness coordinator for the Garden Route District in the Western Cape.
As a sufferer of multiple chronic illnesses, Magazulwe knows all too well about taking care of one’s health. “This has forced me to re-evaluate my lifestyle and take better care of myself. I follow a healthy diet which helped me to not only feel better, but also to lose weight and reduce my risk of aggravating my conditions,” she says.
Magazulwe was diagnosed with chronic lifestyle diseases diabetes and high blood pressure.
“Since my diagnoses I’ve also made regular exercise a part of my lifestyle because I know I feel better when I exercise and that it has a positive effect on my health. I also make sure that I follow my treatment plan and take my prescribed medication.”
Health is the new wealth
On 7 April we commemorate World Health Day, marking the anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO). If anything, Covid-19 has highlighted the role and responsibility of each citizen to take charge of their health, Magazulwe says. Those preventative measures like masks, sanitising and vaccinations may have been a nuisance but they were for a good cause, she adds.
She tells Health For Mzansi, “The road is not always easy, but I know that my health is my responsibility. I’ve learnt that managing my chronic conditions is not only the responsibility of my healthcare team. I must also do my part by going for regular check-ups and following a healthy lifestyle. We must never underestimate the impact we have on our own health journey. I am also a mother, so it is also important to set a good example for my son so that he lives a healthy, balanced life.”
Covid-19 and beyond
Meanwhile, the Western Cape’s department of health has now shifted focus towards addressing the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on especially people living with chronic illnesses, including TB, HIV/Aids, and child immunisation, says WC health minister Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.
“Tuberculosis is a curable and treatable disease and is one of the areas in which we have seen an effect post-lockdown,” she says. “Our teams are now putting in a lot of effort to get people living with TB whose treatment has been interrupted, back on treatment and to support them to complete their treatment.”
Mbombo adds that it is important to understand that wellness encompasses more than only physical health, but also relates to our mental wellness.
“If you or someone you know lives with a mental health condition, you can go to your local clinic where a healthcare worker will assess you and offer appropriate care. You can also contact the South African Anxiety and Depression Group (Sadag) to join a support group or for more information.”
Power to the people
Head of health and wellness Dr Keith Cloete, says, “We want the people we serve to know that they matter and that we aspire to become a health system that will support them to live healthy and longer lives.”
He adds, “Let us take collective action to address the burden of disease, increase the wellness of communities, and ensure patient-centred quality care for you. This will help ensure a healthier tomorrow.”
Eight simple tips for a healthier lifestyle:
- Make time for regular exercise.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet, including a variety of foods.
- Visit your local clinic for regular check-ups.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Quit smoking, no amount of smoking is healthy.
- While we can’t always escape stress, managing stress effectively is important for a healthy lifestyle.
- Chronic patients: Join a support group closest to you or enquire on how you can start a group. To join a group, ask your local clinic for more information on their chronic club.
- Get vaccinated against Covid-19 and avoid serious illness, hospitalisation, and the risk of suffering from long-term Covid-19.