Experts Harp On Therapeutic Lifestyle To Cure Diseases

Tasks Govt On New Taxes For Sugary Drinks, Tobacco, Alcohol 

The Society of Lifestyle Medicine of Nigeria (SOLONg) has called for the adoption of therapeutic lifestyle to avert or reverse the progression of chronic diseases.

SOLONg gave the advice through its National President,  Dr. Ifeoma Monye at the 4th Annual Scientific Conference and General Meeting held virtually.

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Dr. Monye noted that, Lifestyle Medicine was a new specialty in medicine that consists of therapeutic lifestyle interventions to prevent, treat and in some cases, reverse the progression of chronic diseases.

This, according to her, included habit such as eating whole-food, plant predominant meals, adequate restorative sleep, regular physical activity,  avoidance of toxic substances such as tobacco and alcohol, management of stress and sustained positive social connections.

She disclosed that, “more people are dying of chronic diseases worldwide more than deaths from COVID-19, AIDS, TB, and malaria combined. Deaths from NCDs are on a sharp rise in Africa and the World Health Organisation predicts that this is set to get worse, unless we act decisively in Africa. We are gathered here to advance discussions on what we must do now to mitigate this healthcare emergency that is upon us”.

The SOLONg President said, as Nigeria’s only medical and health professional association representing the interdisciplinary field of Lifestyle Medicine, the Society of Lifestyle Medicine of Nigeria exists as a galvanised force for change not just in the healthcare sector, but in the wider community.

“SOLONg represents a group of passionate and dedicated clinicians who are united in their message to Nigerians and the rest of Africa”, she added.

The SOLONg’s arrowhead said, the recent combination of COVID conflicts and Climate change has made Nigeria and the rest of Africa even more vulnerable, therefore, there was need to focus on the root causes to effectively deal with the menace of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

She hinted that, the association was working to identify and eradicate the root cause of chronic disease and rather than just treat the diseases that result from lifestyle practices, which study after study had confirmed was due to behavioural choices, she said, we could prevent and even reverse chronic disease by changing our behaviour and through therapeutic lifestyle interventions.

“At our monthly research webinars, we have critically reviewed scholarly articles that represent scientific evidence that lifestyle medicine can prevent, stop or reverse the progression of many of these chronic diseases. We believe that lifestyle medicine should be the first and optimal whole-person treatment option for chronic diseases.

 “We know this will go a long way to mitigate the quadriple burden of disease, directly or indirectly dealing with NCDs, HIV/AIDS and TB, poverty related conditions including maternal and child health problems, pandemics and injuries”, she noted.

Lifestyle Medicine, according to her, would reduce health inequalities by reaching the hard to reach who incidentally need Lifestyle Medicine interventions the most.

“This becomes a dream come true in the face of scarce resources through Group Consultations and taken a notch higher, through virtual group consultations, doing the most good to the greatest number”, she added.

The association called on  “governments to enact policies that would encourage individuals and communities to make healthy lifestyle changes. Introducing and implementing new taxes on sugary drinks, tobacco and alcohol will result in proportional reductions in consumption of these”.

She stated that, according to WHO, subsidies used to reduce retail prices of fresh fruits and vegetables by at least 10-30%, can increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Monye said, at the August 2022 Lomé, Togo, seventy-second session of the WHO regional committee for Africa, African health ministers, endorsed a new strategy to boost access to the diagnosis, treatment and care of noncommunicable diseases, with a view to reduce deaths.

She therefore, called on African health ministers to consider prevention, treatment and reversal of these chronic diseases using lifestyle medicine principles. “That is what will really reduce deaths”, the Expert concluded.

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