The Mayor of the Kigali of City, Fidele Ndayisaba, has said that government may consider dedicating one day in a month to sports to help ensure the good health of Rwandans.
He made the remarks during an interview with The New Times on the sidelines of a health awareness event held at the Amahoro National Stadium. The event was organised by the Rwandan Heart Foundation and the Rwandan Diabetes Association.
The day was held in recognition of the International Day against Diabetes.
Ndayisaba noted that Rwanda has an opportunity to save most of its people from killer diseases without spending money.
“Sports is a major preventive measure against non-communicable diseases; this is why we intend to introduce a mass sports day that would be held at the village level every month,” said Ndayisaba.
He added that the day would be modelled along the monthly community work (Umuganda) where residents converge to clean up their neighbourhoods.
“People of the same village will be meeting to do sports, interact and share developmental ideas. This is a multipurpose activity, it improves the health of the people and develops their societies,” said the Mayor.
He noted that people should make use of sidewalks constructed by the roadsides instead of over-relying on cars as walking is necessary as a sport.
During the event, the Rwanda Heart Foundation together with the Rwandan Diabetes Association conducted free testing of diabetes and possible heart complications to hundreds of people who had showed up for the event.
According to Dr. Joseph Mucumbitsi, a cardiologist, heart diseases claim over 17.2 million lives annually.
“80 percent of those affected are from less developed countries and some of the major causes include how we feed and live. Some people eat too much food than their bodies require and do not do any sport. In the end, they gain too much weight,” said Mucumbitsi.
There are many risky factors that may lead to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes combined under the metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders that, when occurring together, increase the risk of developing heart disease (cardiovascular) and diabetes.
Mucumbitsi gave the example of a general testing exercise conducted in 2007. He revealed that of the 960 people who took part, eight percent had hypertension, 12 percent were abnormally obese while 27 percent had intermediate obesity.
He said that the Heart Foundation had requested the government to increase funding to fight Non-Communicable Diseases – including heart disease and diabetes – as well as setting up sports facilities at the village level.
“Sports has been proven to be the main prevention factor from cardiovascular disease. It is advised that a person walks thirty minutes every day for at least four days a week. This is very important to people who spend a whole day in the office,” said Mucumbitsi.
A Kigali resident, Vivian Mukantaganzwa, who weighed 100kgs in August last year, told The New Times that doctors advised her to consider undertaking sports, otherwise she risked contracting cardiovascular diseases.
“I started doing sports right away; I jog for four hours a week and cover about 35 kilometers and now I weigh 82kg. I have been tested and doctors told me I am in a good condition, although they advised me to continue cutting down my weight to about 65kg,” Mukantaganza noted.