Sharing the road is good; sharing it for your health is better.
The medical community has joined members of civil society groups and the academe in endorsing a campaign called “kalyesharing”—opening up the roads and keeping them safe for pedestrians and cyclists to allow people to lead healthier lifestyles.
Health records show more than 300,000 Filipinos die from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart ailments, stroke, cancer and chronic lung disease.
The rising incidence of NCDs in the country, it has been noted, is largely caused by increased life expectancies, rapid urbanization and deteriorating lifestyles where smoking, drinking alcohol, eating an unhealthy diet and lacking physical activity take predominance.
At a health forum on Thursday, Philippine Medical Association president Dr. Minerva Calimag said that creating an “enabling environment” would sway Filipinos to eat healthier and engage more in physical activities.
This should include making healthy food more accessible, increasing the price of tobacco products to discourage smoking and providing the public with more walkways and open spaces.
“Educating patients to change their lifestyle will not work. The best example are doctors. We know all we need to know about health and yet we eat unhealthy, we don’t exercise and some of us smoke,” Calimag said.
“It’s time to start looking into the viability of making space for physical activities to promote a healthy lifestyle while addressing the traffic congestion in the metropolis,” said Dr. Antonio Dans, president of the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine and chair of the advocacy committee of the Philippine College of Physicians.
On Feb. 7, members of the two medical groups will join the Bayanihan sa Daan Movement in staging a kalyesharing on Roxas Boulevard in cooperation with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Health, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and other agencies.
The daylong event will encourage pedestrians and bikers to occupy the entire stretch of the busy thoroughfare’s southbound lane and engage in physical activities.
“This is a very significant step to raise the awareness of Metro Manila residents about the importance of opening up the roads to bikers and pedestrians,” said Dans.
Bayanihan sa Daan Movement spokesperson Paulo Burro said the DOST will bring its hybrid electronic road train to the event.