November 5, 2004

Government intensifies prevention of diseases

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has announced that her department has prioritised over the next five years the development of plans to prevent "costly" diseases in the country. As she has emphasised, non-infectious diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer and osteoporosis were increasingly being recognised as significant health problems needing the attention of governments globally. "Our priority over the next five years, therefore, is to develop meaningful programmes for preventing these diseases that are difficult to live with and costly to manage," she said. Tshabalala-Msimang further explained that the main strategies for the prevention of such diseases centred on a good diet, responsible alcohol consumption, regular exercise and avoiding tobacco use. She added that the underlying factor in the spread of infectious diseases including HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria, was the poor conditions under which most of those who were infected and affected live. "Responding to these challenges, we have highlighted the important role of promoting health and healthy lifestyles in the prevention of disease." For this reason, she said government had allocated R7 million for nutritional supplements to be distributed to those in need of good nutrition and embarked on a campaign to promote healthy habits. Access to AIDS-related treatment has already been extended to 50 of the 53 districts across the country, having at least one service point for the management, care and treatment of HIV and AIDS. (Bua News, Pretoria)

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