Unhealthy habits attributed to 84 percent of diseases linked to deaths

Patient being escorted to an ambulance on March 23, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

A STEP survey by Health Ministry shows that 84 percent of the noncommunicable diseases linked to deaths in the Maldives are the result of unhealthy habits.  

The survey was conducted amongst people between the ages of 15 and 69, by Maldives National University (MNU) and health sector workers with assistance from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The results of the survey show that 84 percent of the diseases linked to deaths in the Maldives are a result of unhealthy habits. They include heart disease, cancer, stroke, terminal lung diseases, diabetes, kidney diseases and mental health illnesses.

As per the STEP survey, every fourth person in Maldivian society is a smoker – which is 25.7 percent of the whole population. 35.6 percent of the smokers are men, whilst the remaining 7.6 percent are women.

A man has his mask lowered to smoke a cigarette outside a residence in Male' City. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

People were shown to begin smoking in the Maldives at an alarmingly young age. The survey places the earliest age at eight.

Eighty percent of the Maldivian population uses areca nut products – most of them on a daily basis.

The number of people abusing drugs and alcohol was also identified through the survey.

In this regard, 5,900 people of the total population drink alcohol. One out of four of these people, drink alcohol on a daily basis. 26.5 percent of the Maldivian population abuses drugs. However, the number of people using drugs on a daily basis is relatively low.

As per the survey, two out of every five people include salt-based sauces in their diet. One out of every five people adds more salt, whilst eating. 54 percent of the Maldivian population eats processed food that contains high amounts of salt.

65 percent of the population participates in an activity that can be considered exercise. However, 52.1 percent of the Maldivian population weigh more than they should, in comparison to their height.

A man jogs along the ring road of Male' City on June 16, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Out of this 58 percent are women, and the remaining 46.3 percent are men. Obesity is most common among women in the Maldives. In this regard, 20 percent of women are obese.

The survey also showed an increase in mental health illnesses in the Maldives. One in every 20 people from the Maldivian population has had suicidal thoughts. One in every five people suffers from depression.

The result of the STEP survey on non-communicable diseases was launched during a special ceremony held at Dharubaaruge on Monday night.