Cardiovascular diseases and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) remain an important reason for substantial morbidity and mortality in countries, especially low-income and middle-income nations, including Myanmar.
A rise in unhealthy lifestyles alongside poverty, inequality, and conflict has increased the burden of NCDs on countries.
In Myanmar, over 30 per cent of the population above the age of 18 has hypertension. That is a very high percentage.
This also means that our younger generation can play a crucial role in curbing NCDs and reducing the burden caused by the four main types of non-communicable diseases. More than two-thirds of preventable and premature deaths in adults attributed to NCDs are associated with risk behavior that started during adolescence.
The risk of NCDs is increased by tobacco use, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity.
A healthy lifestyle and physical exercise for the 9.5 million students across Myanmar would help prevent them from developing diseases in old age. Therefore, calls are rising for incorporating physical exercises in school curriculums.
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure, which is described as an increase in the level of force exerted by the blood on the walls of blood vessels.
The signs and symptoms of hypertension are headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, nose-bleed, heart palpitations, blurred vision, blood in urine, and sudden loss of consciousness.
Now, non-contagious diseases which can just as easily afflict us are posing a threat to our daily lives. According to a health survey conducted in 2016-2017, 75 per cent of deaths in Myanmar can be attributed to hypertension, diabetes, or some form of non-contagious disease.
The 2014 WHO STEPS Survey reveals that 26.4 per cent of adults in Myanmar (between the age of 25 and 64) have hypertension, 10.5 per cent have diabetes, and 22.4 per cent are obese. Likewise, the National Survey on Causes of Death using verbal autopsy (2016-2017) shows that 75 per cent of all deaths can be attributed to hypertension, diabetes and other non-contagious diseases. As a result, there is now a greater need to administer healthcare for these diseases in rural areas where the majority of our citizens live.
If proper preventive measures are not put in place now, the situation may develop into a public health crisis in the next five years.
Rural and township health departments across Myanmar run diabetes-hypertension treatment clinics every Wednesday, which offer medical examinations, treatments, and health awareness programs.
Self-care is better than cure. NCDs can be remedied by a healthy lifestyle and eating nutritious food.