Posted By: Connie Lieu on August 10, 2012

Labels: China , Chronic Disease, Volunteers

Exercising in China to Fight NCDs

The Project HOPE team in Shanghai led by HOPE's Program Director Lily Hsu, consists of a group of women that are humble, determined, respected and very passionate about making available Health Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE.) These women each have a full plate, working on many different preventive health initiatives. Many of the health programs in China are conducted on weekends, so a sub-group or the entire staff in Shanghai seems to be working most weekends, especially during my fellowship.

Given their hectic, almost non-stop work schedules, the team continues to support each other in staying healthy. Staff member, Niki Zhang, assumes the fitness captain role and happily gathers the team daily when possible for a five-minute exercise break that takes the team through an eight-module stretching routine using a video designed for office professionals. Isn’t it true that a team that works together, exercises together, excels together? This team seems to think so!

Its great to see that the team practices what their programs promote - staying active. Inactivity is one of four common and modifiable behavioral risk factors associated with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs.) The other three risk factors are  diet, alcohol and tobacco.

NCD Manual Review

In case you do not know the term, NCDs are chronic, non-contagious diseases of slow progression and include cardiovascular diseases (like coronary heart disease, heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes. I’ve learned a lot about NCDs during my three month global health fellowship with Project HOPE as one of my key deliverables is a manual on developing NCD programs. The manual will provide a roadmap to help define, design and implement new NCD programs based on successful HOPE experiences and expertise from respected authorities such as the World Health Organization and the NCD Alliance.

Did you know that NCDs are responsible for approximately 40 million or 63% of total deaths around the world? Did you also know that NCDs could cost the global economy $35 trillion from 2005 to 2030 if we continue on our current path? The good news is that world leaders have set a target to reduce 25% of preventable deaths from NCDs by 2025 as I was writing the manual and are actively working on finalizing guidelines and indicators to further guide nations on developing more concise plans for their specific nations.

I feel blessed that this fellowship has provided me an opportunity to have a small part in Project HOPE’s global effort to reduce the impact of NCDs, as NCDs impact all age groups and all regions of the world. My sincere thanks to Project HOPE and Pfizer’s Global Health Fellowship Program for making this enriching opportunity and rewarding experience possible.

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