Indians should not ignore health warning

Issue 367 April 15, 2017

Improper and irregular food habits, inappropriate lifestyle, lack of exercise and worst of all, a fatalistic attitude are among the reasons for the comparatively unhealthy nature of the Indian population in New Zealand.

Dr Albert Ko, an Interventional Cardiologist based at Ascot Hospital in Greenlane, Auckland told Indian Newslink during an interview last week that Indians are also exposed to higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, compounded by diabetes and high cholesterol, which are in turn triggered by the abovementioned factors.

The result is not a happy state of affairs.

In her presentation titled, ‘Challenges for Asian Health and Asian Health promotion in New Zealand’ to the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand in January 2015, Agnes Wong, Community Programmes Development Manager at St John New Zealand said that successful Asian health promotion strategies and initiatives demand good communication and understanding of the issues as the foundation for community engagement.

Community responsibility

“Community involvement and engagement drives the building of capacity to make decisions and take culturally appropriate and suitable actions, allow for partnerships to be formed, community needs to be realised and perpetuate sustainability of the programme. It is important that Asian communities are continually legitimised and empowered to drive health promotion initiatives that realise the impact of culturally-responsive community engagement approaches to improve health and reduce future burdens of disease,” she said.

Recognising the problems

We should move away from a pathological view and consider the impacts of systemic issues on health. Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes is increasing globally and in many cases, remains undiagnosed. South Asians have two to six times higher prevalence compared to white populations.

However, Indians identify a number of barriers to prevention of diabetes, including certain health beliefs and practices relating to diet, attitudes to physical activity, religious beliefs, levels of underlying knowledge about diabetes, and attitudes to the concept of self-management.

It is sad that the growing population of Indians in New Zealand are somewhat apathetic towards their own health. It is time to change the attitude and enthuse a collective sense of responsibility.

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