Physical inactivity rate in Oman stands at 37 per cent

By Zainab Al Nasseri — MUSCAT: Dec. 27: A national campaign to promote physical activity was launched at the Supreme Council for Planning on Tuesday despite the fact that the physical inactivity rate stood at 37 per cent.
Themed ‘Health Begins with a Step’, it aims to educate the community on the importance of physical activity, raising awareness on facilities available for practising physical activity. The campaign, which will continue for the entire year in 2017, will encourage community members to engage in sports activities.
untitled-1The launching ceremony was held under the auspices of Dr Ali bin Talib al Hinai, Ministry of Health Under-Secretary for Planning Affairs and Chairman of the Higher National Committee of Non-Communicable Diseases Control, in the presence of number of officials.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Hinai said: “A change in lifestyle and lack of physical activity has led to health issues such as heart diseases.”
He said both the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN agencies have asked countries to have a national policy for non-communicable diseases control. “The Sultanate, besides 12 other countries around the world, has its own national policy which serves as a successful model,” he said.
The launch ceremony saw several papers being presented by experts as part of the campaign.
Dr Said al Lamki, Director-General of Primary Healthcare, said non-communicable diseases are increasing alarmingly, requiring urgent action to be taken to limit and stop them.
“Since the Ministry of Health is not the only party concerned in this matter, we constituted the national higher committee on non-communicable diseases control as per a ministerial decision in 2012.”
This committee, he said, has devised a national strategy in cooperation with related agencies. He said the change in lifestyle is the reason behind physical inactivity.  “The WHO report 2008 has pointed at physical inactivity as the fourth cause of death across the world.”
Globally, 28 per cent of men and 34 per cent women do not engage in any kind of physical activity, he said, citing the report.
In Oman, physical inactivity rate stood at 37 per cent, according to the report.
Referring to the statistics on lack of physical activity in the country, he described it as a “challenge that needs to be tackled”.
Ahmed al Busaidi, a senior medical specialist at the Directorate-General of Primary Healthcare, spoke about the main factors causing non-communicable diseases. “Unhealthy food, physical inactivity, tobacco and alcohol are reasons behind the illnesses which eventually lead to early death,” he said.
Dr Ruth Mabery, a technical officer from the WHO, highlighted the impact of physical inactivity in the Middle East countries. “Oman stands among the countries where obesity is increasing and physical activity is decreasing,” she said.
“There is a lack of knowledge about the importance of physical activity either at home, workplace or other environments where people tend to sit for a long time,” said Dr Mabery.
She recommended social programmes that involve the whole society in sports activities and encourage them to exercise regularly.
According to Dr Huda al Syiabi, DG of community-based initiatives at the Ministry of Health, 70.1 per cent of boys and 84.4 per cent of girls in schools do not practise any kind of physical activity.
potatoShe suggested seven criteria for promoting physical activity: enhancing physical concept in academic curriculum, improving transportation mechanisms and pedestrian walkways, considering physical activity in construction plans, including them in primary healthcare systems, raising public awareness, changing social perspectives and setting community programmes for all ages.
Khalifa al Essaei, DG of sports activities at Ministry of Sports and Head of Physical Inactivity Team, said several ministries and agencies were part of the campaign. They are: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Sports Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Regional Municipalities, Muscat Municipality, Medical Military Services and Supreme Council for Planning.
He said: “The campaign targets all community members, both male and female, in which the mass media as well as the social media will be used to send out clear messages.”
Promotional and educational materials as well as number of activities and events will be held in schools, malls, health institutions and parks.
At the conclusion of the event, the chief guest officially launched the campaign and honoured volunteers and sponsors from both public and private sectors.
Photo by Shamsa al Harthi