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Ethiopia’s 1st Physical Activity Report Card for children and youth

Ethiopia’s 1st Physical Activity Report Card for children and youth

Together, we can create Active Healthy Ethiopian Kids!

Key Messages

  • Physical inactivity and sedentary behavior are highly affecting children and youth in Ethiopia.
  • The Report Card identified large visible gaps of policy, research and practice on physical activity and sedentary behavior among children in Ethiopia.
  • Government should allocate financial resources for evidence-based physical activity interventions in Ethiopia.
  • We look forward to working with all stakeholders across Ethiopia to create more active, healthy and productive generation.

Overview

The term physical activity cannot be confused with exercise. Physical activity refers to any activities of our body that can expend energy. Exercise is a subcategory of physical activity which is structured for specific goals. Engaging in a regular physical activity has miraculous benefits for our health. It is the best buy from a public health approach. The World Health Organization recommends that children aged 5-17 years should engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activities daily. Not meeting this guideline is considered being physically inactive (1-3).

Why Physical Activity for Children in Ethiopia?

Physical inactivity and sedentary behavior are highly affecting children and youth. Globally, more than 80% of adolescents are physically inactive.3,4 Evidence shows that technologies such as smartphone, video game, computer, TVs, etc are discouraging children to move, and encouraging them to sit for long hours in a day.5,6 Besides, childhood obesity is placing the health of many children and youth in all countries at risk. Evidence indicates that the pandemic of physical inactivity is spreading across the world.7 As a result, childhood obesity and physical inactivity are on rapid rise and place children and youth for greater risk of non-communicable diseases later in life. Thus, Ethiopia is sharing this global burden of physical inactivity and sedentary behavior.

Why Active Healthy Kids initiatives?

The Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance (AHKGA) (www.activehealthykids.org ) was established to reverse this global burden and empower countries to take evidence-based actions. The AHKGA was established to monitor physical activity advocacy and research through Report Card development with harmonized indicators. The AHKGA released Global Matrix 1.0 and 2.0 by 2014 and 2016 respectively. Unfortunately, Ethiopia has not participated in these two initiatives.

Physical activity experts in Ethiopia understood this problem and registered Ethiopia on 2017 for participation in Global Matrix 3.0 initiative. In Ethiopia, data are limited on physical activity for children and youth. Thus, developing the 1st Ethiopia’s Report Card can lay a ground basis for governments, policy makers, researchers and organizations working on children and youth in Ethiopia.

Currently, the 1st Ethiopia Report Card is going to be released with 49 countries on November 27, 2018 in Adelaide, Australia.8 Our next work will be establishing Active Healthy Kids Ethiopia that focuses on advocacy and research for physical activity and sedentary behavior among children and youth in order to continue the development of Report Card for Ethiopia. Our ultimate goal is to sustain Report Card development for Ethiopia. Active Healthy Kids Ethiopia will work to create more active, healthy and productive children and youth in Ethiopia. Our team believes that if we empower and support our children and youth, Ethiopia’s children and youth will move more and sit less. We are therefore delighted to expand physical activity advocacy and research among children and youth in Ethiopia. We look forward to work ingwith all stakeholders across Ethiopia to create more active, healthy and productive generation.

Development of the 1st Ethiopia’s Report Card

The first Ethiopia Report Card was developed using AHKGA standard guideline. The purpose of developing our 1st Report Card is to lay a ground basis for physical activity and sedentary behavior research and advocate among children and youth in Ethiopia. Available relevant physical activity data and policy documents were searched systematically. A review of literature, policy documents and expert interviews were done following the AHKGA standard grading rubric with 10 core indicators. Even though evidence was limited, we made major efforts to develop the 1st Ethiopia’s Report Card of physical activity for children and youth. The Ethiopia Sport policy document was used in the report card development.9 A panel of interview was done whenever data was unavailable to assign a grade for the indicator. Each grade reveals how well Ethiopia is succeeding in creating physical activity opportunities for children and youth.

The Report Card Findings

Our result indicated that there are huge visible policy, practice and research gaps on physical activity among children and youth in Ethiopia. The overall physical activity indicator was scored grade (D). Active Play was scored the highest grade (B) and physical fitness indicator scored incomplete grade. The detail result was shown in the Table 1 below:-

Table 1: Summary of Ethiopia’s 2018 Report Card

Indicator

Grade

Rationale

Overall Physical Activity

D

In Ethiopia, majority of children and youth are take part in home chores and light work every day for family help. Our team estimated that 28% of children and youth (17% urban & 39% rural) meet 60 minutes moderate physical activity every day.

Organized Sport Participation

C

Almost 50% of children and youth are participating in school athletics, handball, volleyball and football competitions at all levels for several times in a year.

Active Play

B

Experts estimated that 71% of children and youth involved in active play for a minimum of 2 hours a day before, during and after school.

Active Transportation

C

Approximately 48% of children and youth (31% in urban and 65% rural) are walking to and from school.

Sedentary Behaviors

F

About 13% of children and youth spend on screen time such as mobile game, play station and TV views for no more than 2 hours per day.

Physical Fitness

INC

There is no adequate information in the country to assign a grade for this indicator.

Family and Peers

F

Approximately 14% of children and youth are encouraged and get support from their family members like buying bike, handball or football for their child to move.

School

D

Our team estimated that 32% of schools in the country have access of infrastructures like sport field, outdoor playground, multi-purpose spaces for physical activity.

Community and Environment

F

Approximately 8% of children and youth live in environment that have inevitable infrastructure like sidewalks to engage in physical activity.

Government

D

There is policy existence for physical activity in the country non-communicable diseases (NCDs) agenda. However, it was not implemented yet.

 

Future Priorities

The following top three priorities should be taken into consideration in order to improve Ethiopia’s 2018 Report Card:-

  1. Development and implementation of a consistent national Research and Surveillance system of physical activity and sedentary behavior.
  2. Policy formulation and resource allocation for physical activity interventions.
  3. Increase physical activity participation and limit time stay on screen-based technologies.

Major Challenges

  • Limited policy & research evidence on physical activity and sedentary behavior among children and youth in Ethiopia.
  • Lack of financial support
  • Lack of physical activity research center in Ethiopia

 

Recommendations

  • Develop national physical activity and sedentary behavior policy plan and guideline in Ethiopia.
  • Allocate financial resources for physical activity initiative and implement the WHO Global Action Plan for Physical Activity 2018-2030 in Ethiopia.4
  • Conduct survey on physical activity and sedentary behavior among children and youth aged from 5-17 years old.
  • Integrate physical activity and sedentary behavior survey into Ethiopia Health and Demographic Survey (EDHS)

Conclusion

Physical inactivity and sedentary behavior are highly affecting children and youth in Ethiopia. The 1st Ethiopia Report Card identified large visible gap of policy, research and practice on physical activity and sedentary behavior among children and youth. It lays a foundation for future policy, research and surveillance system for physical activity and sedentary behavior among children and youth in Ethiopia. We have developed this Report Card without any financial support in the past two years. Therefore, Government should allocate financial resources for evidence-based physical activity interventions in Ethiopia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

  1. WHO. Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2011. doi:10.1080/11026480410034349
  2. Carson V, Chaput JP, Janssen I, Tremblay MS. Health associations with meeting new 24-hour movement guidelines for Canadian children and youth. Prev Med (Baltim). 2017;95:7-13. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.12.005
  3. WHO. Physical activity fact sheet. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2017. Available at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs385/en/ Accessed on 18thJune 2018.
  4. WHO. Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018–2030: More active people for a healthier world. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018.
  5. CSSP. Results-Based Public Policy Strategies for Preventing Childhood Obesity. The Center for the Study of Social Policy; 2011 from www.POLICYforRESULTS.org.
  6. Win AM, Yen LW, Tan KHX, Lim RBT, Chia KS, Mueller-Riemenschneider F. Patterns of physical activity and sedentary behavior in a representative sample of a multi-ethnic South-East Asian population: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2015; 15:318.
  7. Kohl HW, Criag CL, Lambert EV, et al. The pandemic of physical inactivity: global action for public health. Lancet. 2012;380(9838):294-305.
  8. AHKGA. Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance. Available on http://www.activehealthykids.org Accessed on September 27, 2018.
  9. MOYS. Sport Policy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Ministry of Youth and Sport. 1998

 

 

 

 

 

 

About author  

Chalchisa Abdeta (BSc, MPH), Report Card Leader for Ethiopia

Chalchisa Abdeta is young expert, researcher, blogger and volunteer on physical activity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Ethiopia. He took several training courses on Physical activity & NCDs. He is working as country representative for physical activity in Ethiopia since December 2016. He obtained Master of Public Health from Haramaya University and Bachelor of Physiotherapy from University of Gondar. He has practiced for 8 years as physiotherapist in both public and private hospitals in the eastern Ethiopia. He is passionate physical activity advocate on social media and struggling to tackle NCDs in Ethiopia since 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @chaliPA_abdeta or Active Healthy Kids Ethiopia @activekid_Ethio

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