Isaac Adewole has urged Nigerians to engage in 30 or 60 minutes physical activities to maintain a healthy life.
He made the call at a youth development programme in Abuja on Thursday which focused on developing life skills and raising public health awareness among high school youths.
The programme was organised by Exxon Mobile, the National Basketball Association and International NGO, Africare.
Represented by Dr Nnenna Ezeigwe, the National Coordinator, Malaria Elimination Programme, Adewole said that engaging in physical activities helped in maintaining healthy weight and prevents obesity.
He said that “Nigeria like other developing countries is experiencing rapid epidemiological and demography transition from communicable diseases to Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
“Many notable Nigerians have died recently from causes that are traceable to NCDs, many people slum while some go to sleep and would not wake up, while some are incapacitated by stroke.
“The NCDs that are common include cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive respiratory disease, as well as diabetes.
“ We also need to integrate physical activities into the lifestyle of our children to prevent NCDs.”
The minister added that most of the risk factors associated with these diseases begin very early in life and they include obesity from unhealthy nutrition, smoking and harmful alcohol intake.
“The Federal Ministry Of Health has taken measures and this include the recent enactment of the National Tobacco Act to deal with some of the causative factors.
“I am saying this because tobacco industries try to recruit children very early by going to school to promote their tobacco; it is important to educate people early not to take tobacco.
“The ministry also has National Nutritional Guidelines (NNGs) to prevent unhealthy nutrition.”
Dr Doherty Orode, the Country Director, Africare Nigeria, said that integrating physical activities into the lifestyle of children was key to building sustainable, healthy and productive community.
Orode said that the organisation was committed to addressing Africa’s development and policy issues by working in partnership with the African people.
She said “we have been working for three years and have directly reached out to 600 children and with over 5000 indirect beneficiaries.
“We reached them through community initiatives like teaching them about water sanitation hygiene, HIV, Malaria, gaps in leadership and so on.”
The General Manager, Public Affairs of Exxon Mobile, Paul Arinze, said 150 million dollars was invested in a programme called POWER FORWARD, explaining that the initiative was about total health awareness, with 50 modules of life skill training and practice for kids from different schools.
Arinze said “so far, the project has been working and that is why we are doing it for another year and we will continue to support the programme.
“POWER FORWARD is about total health awareness and there are 50 modules of life skill training and practice for children.
“The kids learn everything from public health awareness, malaria prevention, leadership skills, communication skills, HIV/AIDS; it is a whole
lot of intervention programme.”