Fat MPs worry Health MinisterBy: CATHERINE SASMAN
THE Minister of Health and Social Services, Richard Kamwi, has used the generally poor health of MPs and parliamentary staff as an argument for more resources to be allocated to his ministry, which has been one of the best-funded government agencies since independence.
Health checks done on Members of Parliament and parliamentary staff in March showed that they were generally unhealthy and overweight, Kamwi, said in Parliament on Tuesday.
In 2010 the Government had to switch to bigger E-Class Mercedes-Benz vehicles for ministers and their deputies, because some could not fit in their official Volvo S40 luxury vehicles.
Cabinet Secretary, Frans Kapofi was quoted in an Informanté article at the time “they [ministers] are overweight and they are squeezing their bodies into these cars”. He said “the point is these cars [Volvos] are small”.
The Government, reportedly spend about N$30 million on the purchase of these bigger luxury vehicles for the comfort of the overweight leaders.
Yesterday, Kamwi said 43,8% of MPs and 39,1% of staff suffered from hypertension, or high blood pressure.
The health screening also found that 31,3% of MPs and 40,6% of staff had borderline to high-risk blood cholesterol levels.
Close to 19% of MPs and 15,6% of staff had high blood glucose levels, which could be a sign of diabetes. And 46,9% of MPs and 37,5% of staff were overweight, obese or extremely obese.
“As leaders, we need to take care of ourselves. You will appreciate that we have work to do in the health sector, but individually, there is much to be done,” said Kamwi.
He said the poor health status of MPs could be viewed as a reflection of what was happening in the country in general.
“The beginning of a non-communicable disease tsunami that will hit Namibia in 10 to 20 years unless we invest now in prevention and health promotion is unimaginable,” the health minister warned.
He added: “Give us more resources in order for us to operate more efficiently. My team, the health workers and managers, are ready to go. Give them, the foot soldiers of our health sector, the right weapon and enough ammunition, and we shall deliver results.”