The battle to curb diabetes and other chronic illnesses got a boost when the School of Public Health from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the South African Christian Leadership Assembly (SACLA) launched the Sivile Senza Lifestyle Africa programme last month.
The programme is aimed at encouraging people to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.
Khayelitsha residents and various community stakeholders gathered at the SACLA offices on Friday February 23 for the launch.
They were urged to reduce their salt intake and the amount of fizzy drinks they consumed.
Professor Thandi Puoane, from the School of Health, said they worked with community health workers to teach people at various support groups and health clubs about living a healthy lifestyle.
Professor Puoane said their focus was on reducing the salt, fat and sugar intake among residents and increasing their physical activity.
She said eating unhealthy and not exercising contributed to diabetes.
“We want our people to eat food that has more vegetables and less food that contains salt. We urge our people to drink more water. I appeal to the community at large to stand up and take responsibility for their health,” she said.
Professor Puoane said it was expensive to treat diabetes. She stressed that diabetics were prone to other diseases due to a weaker immune system.
She said one of the misconceptions that township people had was that healthy food was expensive. She also cautioned residents against eating too much fast food.
SACLA area manager, Anna Genu, said black people did not receive adequate health services. She said they were glad that there were initiatives such as these.
She said township people did not care about what they ate.
She said overweight people were often regarded as being healthy and called for a change of that mindset.
Resident Nothandekile Lambatha, said she ran a soup kitchen at Site C and had learnt about the importance of making healthy food.
Ms Lambatha said she was particularly glad that she had learnt about how to cook using less salt.
“I will now cook food that contains lots of vegetables. I will definitely reduce my intake of fizzy drinks. I will preach the culture of living a healthy lifestyle,” she said