So far in 2011, I have been exploring a variety of ways to increase my interaction with the Rakyat, using less conventional approaches. I tweet quite frequently, and have been meeting with my online friends during my state tours. Last week, I made an appearance on Hot FM for an interview and to play checkers, a brand new experience for me!
During these interactions, I am frequently asked how I balance work and my personal well-being. Granted, my schedule is always hectic, even on weekends. But that is what being Prime Minister is about: dedicating your time and energy for the people. That said, it is of paramount importance that I keep healthy and fit so I can perform my duties to the country.
My fitness regime involves spending 20-30 minutes on the treadmill or cross trainer 3 times a week. Sometimes it’s quite a challenge to keep to this regime; I attend many functions in a week and tend to take dessert. Furthermore, it is impolite not to partake or jamah the dishes served especially in kampung areas. However, I will always try to fit in the time. Not only does it help me keep fit, it also provides me the opportunity to clear my mind and relax! I also manage my diet by eating regular meals, drinking plenty of water, and watching what I eat. I find that these simple steps have a positive effect on my body and my state of mind. Aside from that, I make it a point to have my blood pressure checked regularly. In fact, if any of my ministers happen to be around while I am with the doctor, I insist that they check their blood pressure as well.
We live at a time where viruses and bacteria are becoming more resilient to antibiotics. Rapid growth and urbanisation give rise to new physical and psychological health issues, as the air becomes more polluted, quality of life deteriorates, and dependence on processed foods grows.
However, another great cause of poor health is apathy. Many of us still do not prioritise early prevention, such as maintaining personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness, exercising, or eating healthy. If we do not heed calls and efforts to curb the spread of preventible diseases, we stand to suffer great losses. Poor health makes it difficult for students to learn effectively, or for workers to be productive and contribute to the nation’s economy, or for us to withstand the growing challenges of a developing nation in the 21st century. Our goal of transforming the country into a fully-developed, high-income nation will be tough to achieve if the Rakyat is not healthy enough to strive for it.
While the cost of medical care in Malaysia is still reasonable and competitive compared to developed nations, it will not remain so. Rather than becoming physically and financially burdened by medical conditions such as kidney and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or dengue fever, it is wiser and far cheaper to take key precautions and reduce the risk of contracting them. We must ensure that we take the necessary measures to prevent ill-health or susceptibility to diseases. In other words, we must undertake a lifestyle transformation.
The Government has always been committed to inform the public and transform our attitudes to preventible and contagious diseases. At the same time, numerous initiatives have been launched to ensure healthcare is accessible to all Malaysians. For instance, the Government provides dialysis machines to hospitals and subsidies to NGOs that run dialysis centres for kidney patients requiring treatment. Workers’ insurance via SOCSO also helps manage medical and healthcare costs for workers around the country. Access to medical care has been further increased with the 1Malaysia clinics that have been introduced in early 2010, to cater to the basic medical needs of low-income urban and rural families. More recently, the Ministry of Health launched the Pos 1Malaysia Medication Service to deliver medication to the doorsteps of qualified chronic disease patients, thus reducing patient load at hospital pharmacies. Just last month, I launched the 1Malaysia mobile river clinic to provide basic medical service to longhouse residents living along the Baram River.
Your health is vital to your family and your nation. If each of us can commit to a simple but effective lifestyle transformation, we will all benefit greatly from it.
As always, your thoughts and comments are always welcome.