Muscat: Medical experts from Oman and abroad are advising people to take measures for a healthier lifestyle, enhance their quality of life, and protect themselves from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
Dr Francesco Branca, Director of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, told the Times of Oman in an exclusive interview, “Major NCDs are cancer, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. They have some common risk factors. They are attributable to tobacco smoking, an unhealthy diet, and low physical activity, all risk factors unfortunately common in Oman. We particularly see a high consumption of saturated fat, trans-fat, fatty foods, sugar, and sugar sweetened beverages, and a low consumption of fruits and vegetables.”
He offered advice on how to avoid NCDs, saying: “First of all, no smoking in any form whatsoever. Then, at least half an hour of regular physical activity, even a simple walk, and a diet low in fat, sugar, and sodium, and high in plant food, particularly fruits and vegetables is a must. This prevention must start very early in life. Mothers should exclusively breastfeed their babies until two years of age.”
Dr Taha bin Mohsin Al Lawati, General Surgeon and Head of Oncology at the Royal Hospital, said: “Cancer is a challenge not only in Oman but across all the countries in the world. It is increasing; there is no doubt about it. It is increasing in Oman, in Europe, and in the States. We had some 800 cases 15 years ago. Today, we have 1,200 newly diagnosed cases of cancer and the number is increasing. That is due to several reasons, such as changes in the quality of life, better tools for diagnosis, and longer lives.”
“The best treatment is prevention or an early diagnosis. Stage 1 cancer has a 90 per cent chance of being cured, whereas at a later stage, there may not be a cure at all,” he added.
According to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, NCDs are the leading cause of premature mortality in Oman, with half of all Omanis being overweight or obese, and one in four Omani adults suffering from high blood pressure. Figures published by WHO stated that 30-50 per cent of all cancer cases are preventable, with tobacco use considered the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality.