Gaborone — “We are walking the talk of all the speeches and statements that we make all the time and we know that exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your health. In the African region, we very much work to bring an end to Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and infectious diseases that affect us all very seriously. Still, we know that there is a very rapid increase in noncommunicable diseases as they are chronic diseases, hypertension, heart conditions, and mental health problems. Some of these are related to living unhealthy lifestyles,” said, World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa Regional Director, Matshidiso Moeti noted during her speech just before the Walk the Talk, Walk for Life to End NCDs initiative in Gaborone, Botswana.
The Walk the Talk, Walk for Life to End NCDs was a six-kilometer walk organized by the WHO Africa Region and the Health Ministry of Botswana. This comes a day before the start of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa being hosted in Botswana from 28 August to 1 September 2023.
The African Region has recently seen outbreaks of cholera in countries like Mozambique and Malawi and often see cases of yellow fever, meningitis, measles, and Ebola which still pose a significant threat to the health, well-being, and development of African countries.
Moeti said she hopes participants will be inspired to adopt walking as part of their lifestyles and also urged leaders to create safe environments for each country’s citizens to take walks and exercise.
“To the leaders and ministers who are here, I say it is our work to make sure that we organize with our government’s availability of spaces for exercise for all the people, especially for women. We need to make sure that women and young children have safe places to walk that do not cost you the fee of being a gym member because not everyone can afford a gym membership,” she said.
“While we walk could you please reflect on the following, the fact that NCDs are silent killers, that NCDs kill 41 million people each year equivalent to 74% of all deaths globally, that of all NDC deaths, 77% are in low and middle-income countries and then we should ask ourselves these vital questions, how much are NCDs costing us in each of our countries,?” Botswana First Lady, Neo Masisi said.
Masisi thanked the president of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi for joining the walk saying it affirms the government of Botswana and his personal commitment to a healthy lifestyle and overall fight against NCDs.
“I regard healthy lifestyles and well-being intricately intertwined with the human and economic development of any country, it is a healthy nation, the people that will achieve development,” Masisi said.
This meeting is taking place as the WHO celebrates 75 years of existence and the hard-won gains that have been made over the past 75 years.