Senior citizens in the Belait District yesterday morning received free medical checkups and were briefed on the importance of "health maintenance" to mark the celebration of World Health Day, at the Kuala Belait Convention Centre.
The guest of honour at the event was the Deputy Permanent Secretary (Administration and Finance) at the Ministry of Health, Hjh Siti Mariam binti Hj Md Jaafar.
The theme for the International World Health Day this year was "Ageing and Health", and the slogan, "Good Health Adds Life to Years".
Hjh Siti Mariam said that the World Health Organization (WHO) is conveying the message through the theme and slogan, that everyone should be responsible in ensuring that senior citizens are able to reach old age in the best possible health, and live a productive and meaningful life with their family, community, nation and religion. This can be achieved by increasing health awareness among senior citizens.
According to the WHO, in the next five years and for the first time in history, the number of people over the 60-year age group will increase more than the infants below the five-year age group.
The deputy permanent secretary added that the WHO has outlined four key steps that governments and communities can take to strengthen healthy and active ageing. It includes promoting good health and healthy behaviour at all ages to prevent or delay the development of chronic diseases; to minimise the consequences of chronic diseases through early detection and quality care; to create physical and social environments that foster the health and participation of older people; and to 'reinvent ageing' by changing social attitudes to build a society in which older people are well-respected and valued.
Hjh Siti Mariam also highlighted that Islam emphasises the importance of health, "and therefore, in order to show our gratitude for the blessings, we should be health conscious and benefit from it by performing our religious duties and obligations".
She stated that poor health is not the only concern people have as they grow older. "Stigmatising attitudes and common stereotypes often prevent older people from participating fully in society. Older people make important contributions as family members, volunteers and as active participants in the workforce, and are a significant social and economic resource," she noted.
Hjh Siti Mariam urged the government departments and NGOs to play a more effective role in assisting the Ministry of Health to create an environment which encourages healthy lifestyles among senior citizens, so as to reduce the risks of chronic diseases and break the stereotyping perception of senior citizens.
The event also gave the public an opportunity to watch a video clip to commemorate World Health Day and to attend a forum entitled 'Ageing and Health', presented by the panel members.
The forum was followed by the presentation of certificates of appreciation to the forum panellists and to pupils from Tadika Alif School, Kuala Belait, who participated in a choir performance.
In addition to the free medical checkups, the event yesterday also included an exhibition on health.