Issues Bigger than the Minister’s Speech!

By: Mohammad Aburamman

تم نشره في Thu 7 April / Apr 2016. 10:27 PM - آخر تعديل في Thu 7 April / Apr 2016. 10:28 PM
  • محمد ابورمان

The speech, Minister of Health, Dr Ali Hyasat gave on the World Health Day was more than just a ceremonial statement.

The Minister mentioned that there are nearly half a million Jordanians with Diabetes, a disease considered fatal, and drew attention to the rising rates of “chronic diseases”, like cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, signifying that Jordan is undergoing —like many other third world countries, a “transitional epidemic phase”.

Accordingly, in his attempt to analyse the factors behind the rising spread of these chronic diseases, he referred to lifestyle changes in our lives today; “physical inactivity”, the phenomena of smoking, obesity, and unhealthy dietaries.

More so, he underlined figures that show almost half of the world’s population, today, are physically inactive, and that only a fifth of students worldwide exercise or engage in physical activity all throughout the week, but for no more than an hour tops!

The Minister, indeed, has many terrifying statistics at his disposal, should he speak about cancer, blood pressure, obesity, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. And perhaps evident of these figures, is the enormous number of submissions, annually made to the Royal Court and Government, for medical exemptions and the building costs by tens of millions every year, excluded from the general budget and insurance as well!

It is important to contemplate the phrase used by Dr Hyasat; the “transitional epidemic phase”, before the big issues building off the eerie lifestyles of most Jordanians today culminate, and ignite a revolutionary change in the public and family health fields, collaboratively, with media and education institutions, along with universities and civil society organisations.

This vast sphere entwined with health and medical knowledge received no interest here, on any level. Even though it touches on our daily lives, our fates, our future and the future of our children, while if one should follow western media, they would field these concerns actually yield outstanding attention; with reports, journals, and investigations of high importance published constantly in global media channels, newspapers, and magazines; even the more political ones like the Newsweek and New York Times, where it is very possible one would find something that has to do with one of the diseases, its cures or figures, on the cover of the issue. The same goes for education and societal organisations.

It is vital that we reconstruct our agendas and priorities so that the medical issues of health are no longer dismissible or marginal in the scopes of education, rearing, as well as in societal and civil work. Otherwise, what is the point of all the political and media blabber if society is to fester in chronic disease, on the long term, like cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other problems.

Back to the figures presented by the Minister, on physical inactivity, and the rates of sports practiced and exercised in schools —nearing zero; these spur out of negligence of this aspect in our curriculum and the myopic priorities of the Ministry of Education. Sports and art classes have become worthless, and physical activities are dismissed from academic and school performance evaluation, as well as in educational administrative disciples.

So, can a collaboration be realised, between the ministries of Health and Education, and the Government, in this discourse, to induce a ground change in terms of interest and attention given to sports, as well as the provision of capsule environments that encourage and motivate physical activity?!

Obesity has become the disease of the era, an epidemic, and it is tied to dietary and lifestyle; it is no longer surprising to see such concerns included in an American presidential speech on national security issues or in the priority agendas of candidates. So is it indeed possible that we may reconsider to take these matters more seriously and in the contexts of nutrition and the building of social and civic settings suitable to the encouragement of sports, physical activity, and health dietary among the people?!

Are these issues and figures not important and determinant of our fates? Is it not time for us to mind these concerns —that are more dangerous than ISIS and terrorism? Are they not worthy of formulating and dispatching specialised commission to construct plans and strategies to counter epidemics like obesity and diabetes, for instance?