Just like your shadow, your health follows you wherever you go, even into your workplace.
These days, we spend most of our days sitting for long hours behind a computer, which predisposes us to many health complications including high blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.
David Mawejje, an international coordinator at the International Labour Organisation (ILO), says health problems at the workplace have escalated because of consumption of unhealthy diets, especially among the middle and high class.
Therefore, according to Dr Deo Sekimpi, there is need for workplaces to implement wellness health programmes to ensure employees adopt healthy lifestyles. Sekimpi, the executive director of Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health (UNACOH), says workplace wellness programmes improve the health and productivity of employees, while reducing expenditure costs on health insurance.
“Wellness programs are linked to healthier staff with increased morale, self-esteem and commitment to the organisations vision and goal, less absenteeism and reduction of long term health care costs,” says Dr Sekimpi.
Dr Gerald Mutungi says tobacco use, unhealthy diets, harmful alcohol use, consuming lots of salt and sugar, HIV, and indoor pollution are the commonest risk factors that predispose one to acquiring non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Notably, the commonest NCDs include heart complications, (medically called cardio vascular ailments) cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. Mutungi, the program manager for NCD control in the ministry of health, confirms that NCDs ,cause long term weakness, disability and death.
“NCDs remain conditions of late diagnosis and delayed health care seeking leads to complications of blindness, impotence and even amputation,” he says.
Preliminary data from the national NCDs survey indicate that one in every four adults in Uganda has hypertension, three in 10 have diabetes and 300 in every 100,000 have cancer.
To ensure workplace wellness, Dr Mutungi recommends that workplaces provide space for physical activity and regular screening and health checks.
“Consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables should be encouraged and salt shakers should be avoided on tables as they may lure someone to add fresh salt to food which is unhealthy,” he advises.
He also appeals to employees to walk or cycle to work, where possible. To prevent harmful consumption of alcohol, Mutungi calls for regulation of drinking hours, ban on alcohol adverts and avoidance of selling alcohol in small quantities such as sachets.