Embrace Healthy Lifestyle – Nana Konadu

29 04 2011

Healthy LifestyleFormer First Lady and President of the 31st December Women’s Movement (DWM), Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings has called on Ghanaians to endeavour to embrace a healthy lifestyle by exercising, eating balanced diets and drinking in moderation.

Nana Konadu also counselled against poor sexual habits and smoking, saying such negative habits affect the life expectancy of Ghanaians.

Speaking at the opening of a workshop on Regenerative Health at the Ghana Institute of Journalism on Thursday, the former First Lady said: “A healthy lifestyle requires commitment first from the individual and of course from the entire community. We have to appreciate the fact that most illnesses are a direct result of our inability to look after our bodies.”

The two-day workshop under theme, “Living right; a must for long life” is being organised by the External Affairs Commission of the Students Representative Council of GIJ in conjunction with the Ministry of Health to train students to serve as an outreach on healthy life education.

Please find below the full text of Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings’ speech.



Mr Chairman, Honourable Deputy Minister, Director of GIJ, Directors of Ministries of Health and Education, NUGS and SRC representatives, students from the various tertiary institutions, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to join this workshop aimed at training health agents to embark on a mass education programme through various mediums.

The theme for the workshop, “Living right; a must, for long life” is a compelling one that we take for granted, particularly in Ghana.

We have over the past few decades allowed the allure of foreign culture to affect many of our habits to the detriment of our health and longevity. Unfortunately very little has been done by the various social units of family, community, and opinion leaders such as chiefs, religious leaders or government to stem the unfortunate tide of our social habits.

What this means is that life expectancy in Ghana is so low compared to the Western world where we imported most of our negative habits such as unbalanced diets, junk food, smoking and drinking.

According to the United Nations, life expectancy for Ghana averages 60 years and that of Swaziland, which lies at the bottom of the table, is 32 years. Ghana looks good compared to Swaziland but on top of the league table are the likes of Japan and Hong Kong at 82.6 and 82.6 respectively. United Kingdom is 79.4 and the United States, 78.3. That means we have a long way to go.

Ladies and gentlemen, while there is no doubt that technological advancement in health delivery plays a significant role in life expectancy in developed countries, research indicates that longer life is linked more to a healthy lifestyle than the mere availability of good quality health care. That is why a lot of our compatriots who live abroad still die relatively young because they fail to adopt the healthier habits of their host countries. It is not uncommon to see our newspapers publish obituaries daily announcing the deaths of people within the 30 to 50-age range.

As we embark on this project to train the trainer on healthy habits it is imperative that we inculcate in participants gathered here today the need to be ambassadors of what they preach. It is pointless picking up so much information on a healthy lifestyle here without practising it yourselves.

Living right is not something you study in the classroom and forget the moment examinations are over. It is a whole way of living that we need to prioritise as a nation because our development is dependent on a workforce that does not live a sedentary lifestyle but is alert, innovative and productive.

A major lifestyle habit that we should institutionalise is exercise. Once again the availability of vehicular and other mode of transport means many do not get the opportunity to do even a 50-metre walk a day. Ironically elsewhere in the developed world people park their cars and walk to the nearest train or bus station and by so doing exercise their bodies. It is important that we inculcate a standard exercise regime as individuals.

We need to also convince our people to embrace healthy eating habits. Many of us have grown up eating fatty and sugary foods and never moved on from such adolescent lifestyle. Good eating habits are inculcated from childhood and adults need to appreciate the need to eat well and feed their children well also. A balanced diet starts from the beginning.

Many nowadays never get the opportunity to eat lean but delicious meals such as kontomire and other vegetable-based dishes. We prefer to see chunky, fatty meat sitting on an equally oily soup with a large mound of starchy fufu to go with it. And can you believe this goes as lunch for many on a daily basis? How can you perform productively after such a meal at lunch? To make matters worse some accompany such a poor meal with alcohol of varied intoxicating levels.

A healthy lifestyle requires commitment first from the individual and of course from the entire community. We have to appreciate the fact that most illnesses are a direct result of our inability to look after our bodies.

Let us exercise first and foremost. Let us eat orderly and minimally – that is we need to eat breakfast, lunch and supper at the right times. Late night eating is a recipe for potbellies and heart-related problems. For those of you who drink, let us do so in moderation or quit altogether if we can. At my age I can assure you that indulging in alcohol has addictive effects and many are unable to control their thirst for drink leading to all sorts of unhealthy effects. I need not mention the effects of smoking, as you all know that has no positive effects on the body. It is just a death wish.

The list of dos and don’ts is endless, but in choosing to look after our bodies we should not overlook some of the environmental habits that affect our lifestyles – indiscriminate dumping of refuse, particularly in our drains, dirty living conditions, drinking contaminated water created by our poor rubbish and faecal disposal habits and the inhalation of fumes from poorly maintained vehicles.

Before I conclude I cannot forget to mention the need to have a responsible sexual lifestyle. Sexual indiscretion means millions of people are dying across the world through AIDS. One of the reasons for the low life expectancy in Swaziland and South Africa is because of the high prevalence of AIDS. In Ghana many of us are frightened of AIDS tests so the figures have never been truly representative of the reality. Let us not deceive ourselves into believing AIDS is not widespread here. It is and many are dying quietly and inexplicably on a daily basis. So ladies and gentleman let us check our desires and live responsibly, sexually.

Finally I wish to encourage Ghanaians to embrace medical care and desist from self-medication – Medication should always be prescribed by a doctor, not a pharmacist.

I take this opportunity to thank the External Affairs Commission of the SRC of the Ghana Institute of Journalism for inviting me to be part of this important workshop. I urge all participants, particularly those who are being trained for outreach programmes to take the two-day workshop seriously, endeavour to set good examples for their target group and by so doing play their part in helping to develop our dear country Ghana.

Thank you.




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