Physical inactivity is behind the highest burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa. However, urgent actions were not made to tackle the pandemic of physical inactivity [1-3]. Ethiopia is moving in the road of development. In other words, the country is getting more urbanized and industrialized. This can increase the burden of physical inactivity.
Since the country's health policy is mainly focused on prevention, it is easy to integrate NCDs prevention strategies including physical inactivity. Currently, the country is on baseline progress to raise public awareness of physical activity to bring behavioral change . Besides, Ethiopian Physical Activity Network is organizing a social media movement to increase physical activity literacy and practice. You can join them on www.twitter.com/EthioPAnetwork or www.facebook.com/EthioPAN at any time. On the other hand, trained physical activity experts in the country are working for the implementation of Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA) to fit the country’s context. These initial tasks will facilitate GAPPA implementation in Ethiopia. Even if the country is on such progress, the following challenges are still not fixed.
The following 3 main challenges might happen in many African countries including Ethiopia if not fixed early. The first challenge is lack of trained human resources in the field of physical activity. As mentioned above, the country has very few trained human power for physical activity. There is no physical activity training program in the country. Majority of African countries including Ethiopia have no integrated curriculum for physical activity. It is impossible to bring a real change without trained human power. For instance, in order to implement physical activity counseling as a routine task at primary healthcare setting, initially training is must for on-service and pre-service of health professionals. The same is true for all possible physical activity interventions.
The second challenge is lack of financial support to implement physical activity programmes. Even if the government and some UN organizations show an interest to work on NCDs risk factors including physical activity, still there is no real action. Sufficient financial supports are needed to tackle physical inactivity pandemic.
The third challenge is lack of existence of multisectoral collaborations. A single program cannot increase physical activity for all. It requires comprehensive approach at all settings that need collaborations of all stakeholders. For example, in order to implement workplace physical activity interventions, collaborations of ministry of health, sport, civil services and labour are amust. Likewise, other physical activity programmes are required similar collaborations in all aspects. Collaborations of all stakeholders such as governments, UN organizations, NGOs, donors, civil societies and private sectors are necessary required. These 3 challenges will hinder the GAPPA implementation in Ethiopia.
Physical inactivity is behind the highest burden of NCDs in Africa including Ethiopia. Thus, implementations of physical activity programmes are urgent to reverse it. However, lack of trained human power, financial support and multisectoral collaborations will challenge this action if not fixed early. Otherwise, implementing the GAPPA in Ethiopia will be easy. Finally, we are calling all stakeholders such as governments, UN organizations, NGOs, donors, civil societies and private sectors to stand with the country to create more active people and healthy productive nations.
- Kohl HW, Criag CL, Lambert EV, Inoue S, Alkandari JR, Leetongin G, Kahlmeier S. The pandemic of physical inactivity: global action for public health. Lancet physical activity series working group: The Lancet, London NW1 7BY, UK. 2012; 380:294–305.
- Lee IM, Shiroma EJ, Lobelo F, Puska P, Blair SN, Katzmarzyk PT. Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. Lancet. 2012; 219:219–229.
- World Health Organization. Physical activity fact sheet. Available at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs385/en/ Accessed on 18thJan, 2018.
- Allafrica.com. Ethiopia Strategizing Awareness Promotion Intervention to Prevent, Control NCDs http://allafrica.com/stories/201801170697.html Accessed on 18thJan, 2018.
Chalchisa Abdeta is certified with different global level trainings on physical activity to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs). He obtained Master of Public Health from Haramaya University on July 2016 and Bachelor of Science degree in Physiotherapy from University of Gondar on July 2009. He has practiced for 8 years as physiotherapist in both public and private hospitals in the eastern Ethiopia. Currently, he is working volunteer as country contact for Ethiopia at the Global Observatory for Physical Activity and Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance since 2016. He found online network of physical activity advocate (Ethiopian Physical Activity Network that aimed to increase awareness of physical activity in Ethiopia and beyond. He is passionate physical activity advocate on social media since 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @caaliphysio or @EthioPAnetwork