Milkha Singh Appointed As WHO Goodwill Ambassador:- The World Health Organization (WHO) has appointed India’s legendary sportsperson Milkha Singh as the Goodwill Ambassador for Physical Activity in South-East Asia Region (SEAR).
Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia said, Milkha Singh as WHO Goodwill Ambassador will promote WHO SEAR’s non-communicable diseases (NCDs) Prevention and Control Action Plan. The action plan seeks to reduce the level of insufficient physical activity by 10 per cent and NCDs by 25 per cent by 2025, Dr Khetrapal Singh said.
“Promoting physical activity for health is an important intervention, which is expected to get a significant boost in the region with the support of octogenarian Milkha Singh, a champion for the cause,” she said.
According to her, due to non-communicable diseases, an estimated 8.5 million people die every year, in WHO South-East Asia Region. Many of these deaths are premature and nearly all are lifestyle related.
To reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases such as heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and cancer, regular exercise and physical activity can help. These diseases are now increasingly afflicting people across the world.
Singh pointed out that insufficient physical activity is reported by an alarming 70% of boys, 80% of girls and nearly 33% adults in the region, which is becoming a common feature of modern life.
At least 60 minutes of physical activity for children daily and 150 minutes of activity for adults weekly is recommended by the WHO to ward off non-communicable diseases.
The world health body said, to maintain cognitive functioning and reduce the risk of depression, physical activity helps those aged 65 years and above. WHO has also been advocating with governments to facilitate this, and create public spaces for recreational and organized sport.
For physical activity, it has been advocating as a “best buy” intervention for reducing the risk of deaths due to NCDs.
“Whatever be the age group, gender, physical ability, or socio-economic background, being physically active is an effective way to ensure a healthy and productive life,” the regional director said.
“With the support of Milkha Singh, we expect to promote and scale up physical activity in the region to be able to arrest and reverse the NCD epidemic”, she said.
Milkha Singh is a Padma Shri awardee and had won medals in athletics in Commonwealth and Asian games. In the 1960 Rome Olympics, he had missed a bronze medal by a whisker.