2016 World Health Day



Speech given by the WHO Representative, Dr. Cornelia Atsyor

On the Occasion of the  2016 World Health Day

Order of acknowledgement

 Bo ‘Me le Bo Ntate: Please allow me to pay my respects to

  • His Majesty King Letsie the Third,
  • The right Honorable Prime Minister, Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili,
  • The Deputy Prime Minister, Honorable Mothetjoa Metsing,
  • Cabinet Ministers, especially the Minister of Health Honorable Dr. ‘Molotsi Monyamane,
  • The Senators and Parliamentarians,
  • The Principal chiefs
  • The Maseru District administrator,
  • Programme director and managers,
  • Staff members from the Ministry of health and stakeholders present here today,
  • Distinguished guests,
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today, the 7th of April 2016, Lesotho is joining the rest of the world in commemorating the World Health Day under the theme, “Beat Diabetes”.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me start by explaining what diabetes explaining what diabetes is, so that we are able to appreciate why today, we are being called upon to “Beat Diabetes”

Diabetes is a life-long illness that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become very high and which over time may lead to serious damage to vital organs of the body including blockage of blood flow to vital organs including the legs and feet leading to amputation the eyes leading to blindness the kidneys leading to kidney failure to mention a few.

Diabetes is a major cause of premature death and disability.

Globally, the number of people living with diabetes quadrupled within 15 years from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.

The African Region has been worst hit with an eight fold rise from 4 million to 25 million during the same period.

The sharp rise is mainly due to major lifestyle changes of reducing physical activity increasing intake of sugars and fatty food, increasing and use of tobacco.  It has become glamorous to take fizzy sugary drinks that are full of sugars. The fruits juices are no better. Industries are misleading the population to think that sugary drinks quench thirst. It is the contrary. These drinks increase thirst due to the high sugar content leading overconsumption. Do you know that 300 ml of fizzy drinks and fruit juices contain a walloping seven teaspoonful of sugar? And how many of these drinks are consumed by individuals a day? You will then begin to realise the huge amount of sugar the population is taking due to the consumption of fizzy sugary and fruit drinks.

Increase intake of fat and sugar increase the risk of obesity, one of the major risk factors for Diabetes.

Diabetes imposes a substantial public health and socioeconomic burden in the face of scarce resources, and Lesotho is no exception.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation before the age of 70 years. WHO projects that that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030.

However, the burden of diabetes can be reduced through simple lifestyle measures,

  • achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Being physically active
  • Eating a healthy diet – avoiding sugar and saturated fats intake
  • Avoiding tobacco use

It is important that people are empowered to make these healthy choices.

There is also a need for early diagnosis and management of diabetes at all levels of the health system and ensuring availability of medication and laboratory reagents.

Ladies and gentlemen I take this opportunity to commend the Ministry of Health, and partners on the efforts made in the prevention and control of Non Communicable diseases, including diabetes in the country.

I would like to pledge the continued support of WHO, to the Ministry of Health to ensuring that people living with diabetes can access safe, effective and affordable medicines and technologies. Furthermore WHO will continue to provide support towards the domestication of  the  Sustainable Development Goals especially  (SDG) target 3.4  which calls for reducing premature death from Non Communicable Diseases, including diabetes, by 30% by 2030. WHO will support the Lesotho Government to live up to its national commitments set out in the 2014 UN General Assembly Outcome Document on NCDs and the targets in the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs which include halting the rise in diabetes and obesity.


I thank you for your attention

KHOTSO                    PULA                         NALA