Need to strengthen national diet policy: Health Survey

MUSCAT, DEC 8 – Oman should strengthen its policy for diet to avoid the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) on the national health delivery system. This is one of the many recommendations made in the National Health Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health in association with World Health Organization (WHO).
While stressing on the need for prioritising prevention and control of NCDs at both national and governorate level with multi-sectoral governmental and societal support, it also calls for building capacity of the health workforce.
“To reduce the risk factors for NCDs, there is a need to strengthen the implementation of the national policy for diet, physical activity and health,” proposes the survey.
In this regard, one of the measures it recommends is that the authorities ensure continuous involvement with the country’s agricultural sector.
“This is required in order to introduce legislations on production, packaging and responsible marketing of food items and drinks,” opines the survey.
Also recommended is the introduction of a physical activity tool kit in the country to encourage adoption of active lifestyles and reduce sedentary lifestyles.
“The authorities should also ensure availability, access, affordability and quality of safe, efficacious medicines and basic technologies for screening, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of common NCDs,” the survey proposes.
According to Mohammed al Siyabi, head of diet section at the Royal Hospital, nutrition-friendly initiatives including healthy eating can contribute to reducing the burden of disease related to diet and physical activity.
“When it comes to health and fighting diseases, diet and nutrition status of a person is an important element. Medical nutrition therapy has really reduced morbidity and mortality rates,” he said in comments to the Observer.
Nutrition is vital in community and health economies of any country.
“When you have healthy citizens, spending on healthcare diminishes as a result of reduced admissions to hospitals and treatment. This will shift the economy towards further development in many other areas,” Mohammed said.
The national survey was carried out on a sample of 9,045 Omani and non-Omani families across the Sultanate in coordination with the WHO.