HEALA working hard to keep South Africans healthy

HEALA working hard to keep South Africans healthy

With diabetes recently identified as the number one killer of South African women and the second in men, the Healthy Living Alliance (Heala) has embarked on efforts to educate people on the dangers of the disease.

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Heala – an alliance of like-minded organisations on a mission to improve the health of an increasingly obese South Africa – recently started visits to public healthcare facilities to demonstrate the dangers of unhealthy eating and teach people how to prepare affordable yet healthy meals.

Patients at clinics visited by Heala were shown a video tutorial explaining the merits of a healthy diet with some innovative ideas on how to make water the drink of choice.

The public awareness campaign recently kicked off at Mofolo Health Care Centre in Soweto, one of the biggest health facilities in the township.

Educational

“Videos like these are really appreciated, especially for us as we are pregnant. I did not realise that healthy living could also be affordable. The videos we saw were really educational,” said Lusanda Gumede, who attends the antenatal classes at the centre. 

HEALA co-ordinator, Tracey Malawana, addressing chronic patients in Soweto. (Credit: Health-e)

“This adds to what we teach the pregnant women when they come to the classes every day. It is what we have been saying about a healthy diet and drinking lots of water, which we realise is sometimes a challenge because they don’t stick to that healthy diet and often arrive here for classes with sweets,” said Sylvia Makhubela, an enrolled nurse.

Esther Ngcobo, a professional nurse, said the centre had an in-house dietician who normally talks to the pregnant women about the dangers of consuming too many carbohydrates and downing too many sugary drinks.

In a hall where community health care workers were invited to watch the video, the audience was amazed to hear the serious dangers of highly sweetened drinks and that brown starch often has more fibre than white starches.

“The lifestyle around the location generally means eating a lot of unhealthy food. When my friends have fizzy drinks I also join. And I like my tea with four teaspoons of sugar. I’m so glad I have seen this video because I learned a lot,” said Lebo Maphalala, a community care health worker.