News

Western Cape On Wellness Tackles Activity Levels And Healthy Eating in Province

31 March 2015

Physical inactivity and unhealthy eating are considered major risk factors for a number of adverse health outcomes including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other cardio vascular diseases. In South Africa, non-communicable diseases (NCDS) account for 40% of all deaths. In the Western Cape, 17-25% of the burden of disease is attributed to NCDs. To combat these NCDs the Western Cape Government introduces its newest member of its “wellness family” – WesternCape on Wellness (WoW!).
 
Strategically the province must focus on prevention of disease: wellness as opposed to dealing with the burden of disease; we must turn around the tide of preventable illnesses and empower our community to take charge of their own health.
 
WoW! is facilitated through a transversal Working Group which includes the University of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch University, Biokinetics Association South Africa (BASA), 44ten MEDIA, the Heart & Stroke Foundation SA, Pharma Dynamics, SiyaGyma-SA, Discovery Vitality and Eskom. Additional sponsors include Virgin Active and Ubuntu Touch. Adopting an inclusive approach, additional organisations with related expertise and a keen interest are welcome and encouraged to join the partnership.   
 
Minister of Health in the Western Cape, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, said: ‘if we are to begin to make a difference in the lives of those we serve, we cannot simply keep mopping the floor, we need to close the tap. This is why my department is making the shift to wellness initiatives like this to promote healthy living that will inevitably prevent the prevalence of chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and cardio vascular diseases. I am incredibly excited about this initiative and look forward to seeing its pilot take off.’
 
This 6-month pilot initiative builds on the outcomes of the Walk4Health pilot in 2013. The Western Cape Government: Health and its partners will launch the WoW! Initiative on 31 March 2015 at the Gardens Commercial High School with a physical activity.
 
The WoW! Programme promotes and activates a range of health-related physical activities and healthy eating through team leaders to expand and sustain a culture of wellness at and across workplace, community and school levels. Over the next 6 months teams from 13 Provincial government departments, 10 communities and 10 schools will aim to change their lifestyle by increasing their levels of physical activity and eating healthier. A maintenance phase will follow to ensure the sustainability of the initiative.
 
Through an “all of government” and “whole of society approach”, WoW! Aims to create a “culture of wellness” at all levels of society in the Western Cape.
 
During the initiative the Department of Health will also provide training, support and mentor all participants in living a healthy lifestyle. The initiative comprises several integrated components focussing on:
 
 The Head of Health, Dr Beth Engelbrecht said, “Ultimately our aims are to reduce individual vulnerabilities and the consequences  of the burden of disease that we can then improve outcomes at an individual level but also at a population level and then ultimately also drive wellness, so the more we can keep people well, the better. We want to improve outcomes at an individual level but also at a population level, reducing the effects of life-style induced illness. And there is no better way to do this than  through exercise and sensible choices in our diets”.
 
Participants

  • 13 WCG Departments consisting of 30-member departmental teams including the respective Ministers and     Heads of Department.
  • 10 schools (Primary and Secondary in the Cape Winelands and Metro Districts) with no physical activity 
  • programme with unlimited participating number of learners and teachers.
  • 10 NCDs Adherence/Support Clubs, matching geographical areas of the participating schools.

 WoW! Leaders

  • 110 Leaders will be trained across WCG workplaces, schools and communities and managed by a contracted expert consortium, comprising the University of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape and Stellenbosch University in association with BASA.
  • Trained, with Competency test for Certification, and supplied with a WoW! Kit (starter pack) to facilitate a range of integrated health-related physical activities and healthier eating. 
  • Key contact persons for the initiative with responsibility for all communication, mobilising and motivating participating teams, and for repeat participant assessments and M&E data collection
  • The intention is to create and sustain an ever-expanding network of WoW! Leaders to co-create a culture of wellness during and after the WoW! Prototyping period – reaching across the Western Cape.

 
How does the challenge work?

  • The WoW! Leaders will establish their teams and plan their healthy lifestyle activities from 7th April 2015, to coincide with World Health Day, until 9th May 2015.
  • Measurement of the achievements of the WoW! Teams will start on 10th May 2015 to coincide with World Move for Health Day, and continue for 6 months. 
  • Emphasis will be on the uptake of enjoyable health-related physical activities and healthier eating by all the team participants; workplace-, schools, and community-based.
  • The respective WoW! Leaders will advocate and activate a range of health-related physical activities of light, moderate and vigorous intensity; and promote several actions for incremental healthier eating.
  • Each team and/or member will be encouraged to select their preferred activity/activities. 
  • The WoW! Leaders will promote and facilitate several actions for incremental healthier eating.
  • The level of personal and therefore collective team achievements in terms of intensity of health-related physical activity and frequency of healthier eating will be scored according to a three-tiered (bronze, silver and gold) WoW! Achievement Pyramid with specific indicators.
  • The WoW! Leaders will encourage team members to complete the repeat assessments (health status, physical activity and Healthy Lifestyles Questionnaire) for bonus points.
  • The WoW! Leaders and team participants will receive weekly targeted communication (via emails, sms, Twitter, Facebook) for education and motivation; and for announcements about opportunities to participate in existing public healthy lifestyle events (e.g. parkrun, Promenade Monday Skating, Moonlight Cycling, Two Oceans Marathon) to increase their level of physical activity. 
  • A WoW! Award Ceremony will be hosted in December 2015 to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the WoW! Leaders and team participants

  
Quotes from our Partners
 
Eskom
Eskom endorses the WOW programme as it services the greater community, schools and business.  Supporting a wellness  culture in the Western Cape reflects our company  value of Sinobuntu – we are caring.
 
PHARMA DYNAMICS
Mariska van Aswegen, spokesperson of Pharma Dynamics (a prevention-minded pharmaceutical company) says WoW! complements its existing wellness campaign, called iChange4Health, which also aims to promote healthier lifestyle choices among the South African public.
 
“The iChange4Health resource package, which will form an integral part of the WoW! initiative, also includes the popular heart-healthy Cooking from the Heart recipe book series that can be accessed via www.cookingfromtheheart.co.za along with www.facebook.com/iChange4Health, which provides practical tips on how to eat and exercise right.
 
“The majority of South Africans don’t do anywhere near the recommended amount of exercise to stave off diseases such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. By participating in 30 minutes of exercise every day reduces one’s risk of high blood pressure by almost one fifth, while incorporating four hours of physical activity a week could make the difference between a healthy blood pressure and having to take medication for life.
 
“Over the last decade there has been an increasing body of evidence supporting active lifestyles as one of the best investments for individual and community health. If physical inactivity is to ever have a similar profile and emphasis received by other public health matters, it requires a concerted and sustained effort from all parts of the health sector. We consider our partnership with WoW! as critical in advancing the physical activity agenda in SA,” says van Aswegen.
 
44TEN Media
“Public/private collaborations is an effective and necessary effort leveraging from one another’s strengths and expertise to maximise the yield of a common goal/objective.
 
44ten MEDIA is constantly in search of public/private collaborative opportunities where we are able to lend our support to state institutions who may have similar goals as ours, but lack some resources, skills or experience to achieve them. By sharing our resources we mitigate these limitations and create an enabling environment for the realisation of the common goal/objective for the benefit of the community.”
 
Biokinetics Association of South Africa
Endorsement of the WoW! initiative is an extension and confirmation of what the Biokinetics Association of South Africa (BASA) and the profession of Biokinetics believe in and stands for.  The WoW! initiative is to be applauded and the Association supports the initiative with great confidence as we believe it be will be a major success.  It will bring tremendous benefit to the WoW!  participants as they will be enriched through the exposure of evidenced-based truth that physical activity has an extremely important role to play in the improvement of health status.  Improvement of health and combating the onslaught of non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) in SA through physical activity falls into the expertise of the Biokineticist.  Providing education, training and support on physical activity to WoW! participants through the WoW! initiative will open the door of opportunity to Biokineticists not only making a difference to health status, but also showcase the value of the profession in the public sector. We hope this initiative is the first of many similar and much needed projects in the Western Cape and South Africa at large that focus on the improvement of health status and quality of life through physical activity.  The WoW! initiative is true to the BASA slogan “Life Through Movement” (LTM). 
 
Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa
Dr Vash Mungal-Singh, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, is proud to be part of this partnership to help make the Western Cape a healthier place. Our population is at high risk for heart disease, strokes and diabetes, and we are seeing more and more people of a younger age being affected. But the good news is that 80% of this can be prevented through making healthy lifestyle changes. We need to encourage this in our homes, schools and places of work, and by working together we can make a real difference.
 
 

Media Enquiries: 

Mark van der Heever
Deputy Director: Communication
Western Cape Government: Health
Head Office
Tel: 021 483 3245
Cell: 078 589 4156
Email: Mark.vanderHeever@westerncape.gov.za
Website: www.westerncape.gov.za