KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians, the Government feels, are an unhealthy lot. A National Council for Fitness will therefore be formed not only to encourage a healthy lifestyle but also promote unity, sports and recreation.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the proposed council was the brainchild of Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said and would involve the two ministries as well as the Housing and Local Government Ministry and the National Unity and Integration Division of the Prime Ministers Department.
Speaking at a joint press conference here with Azalina, he said Malaysians were not generally aware of the importance of exercise.
They lead sedentary life-styles that cause diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, to increase.
We want to develop a nation that pays attention to individual wellness, which includes mental and physical health, he said.
Dr Chua said exercise lowers the risk of diseases, thus reducing public expenditure on healthcare.
He said the 9th Malaysia Plan provides for the ministry to reduce diseases via preventive medication, adding that the ministry would emphasise on the eating habits of Malaysians as a form of preventive medication.
A healthy lifestyle does not only mean being active in sports, but also practising good eating habits, he said.
Azalina echoed Dr Chuas concerns on the poor eating habits and the lack of exercise among Malaysians.
She said the national unity division and the three ministries were co-operating on the matter in response to a statement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that the development of sports and fitness among Malaysians was the responsibility of all government agencies.
Azalina said the new council would be launched as soon as a committee comprising representatives from the division and the ministries is set up. Asked for a time frame, she said as soon as possible.
She said the joint collaboration, riding on the theme Sports for All, Sports for Unity and Sports for a Healthy Lifestyle, would prevent a duplication among the agencies concerned, increase efficiency of roles among them and lower healthcare costs.