A healthy citizenry is the cornerstone of a vibrant economy, says JD Lovrenciear.
Indeed while our religions teach us to accept sudden deaths as the will of God, as humans, we must also take personal and collective responsibility.
Lately, we have lost some members of Parliament and elected representatives in government owing to ‘sudden deaths’.
We also know of those in leadership positions coping with serious health issues with some even collapsing in Parliament or while on the job.
While we may all marvel at our prime minister’s long life and blessed health, we cannot say the same for many of our elected leaders. In fact, many Malaysians are suffering from heart-related issues and diabetes.
The number of Malaysians seeking medical care while in their early forties and upon retiring is worrying.
Merely taking comfort under the religious canopy of beliefs may actually prevent us from re-examining the critical and more fundamental perspectives of lifestyles, diet and responsible personal, communal and organisational care.
While our schools carry out cursory or obligatory teaching of health science, it is clear that the Malaysian lifestyle, diet and working conditions have long neglected the need to be well-informed citizens who place paramount importance on good health, early diagnosis and even a preventive approach to healthier living.
When we examine our eating habits on the job and elsewhere, we need to acknowledge that we are low on knowledge. We live by our taste buds.
When we look at the working conditions we must have the honesty to state that many employers only give lip service to healthy lifestyles. Working long hours is a culture we have been silently endorsing.
It is time to take several steps back and ask the government: is the race to be a developed nation, making profits and expanding businesses not the main cause for the declining health of Malaysians across the board?
We cannot continue to dismiss the fact that the Malaysian food industry has been left to be solely driven by profit motives at the expense of a healthier citizenry.
We have to admit that largely Malaysians have no knowledge or are ill-informed and lack responsible discernment when it comes to eating, relaxation and exercise.
The loss of young and middle-aged leaders is most unfortunate.
Looking at the eating habits of millions of students in universities and their cutting corners to get by, we are actually preparing for more disappointments in the long haul.
Banning smoking in eateries across the nation is just a smokescreen.
Instead, we need policies that will force employers and government to ensure that no one works beyond eight hours a day. There needs to be political to prioritise better working conditions, better choice of food and more recreation and exercise.
A healthy citizenry is the cornerstone of a vibrant economy.