1:14pm 07/04/2022
Shifting our focus to NCDs from COVID-19
By:Dr. Yoong Lee Yeen, Professor Dr. Moy Foong Ming

It has been around two years of living with COVID-19, so we have been through many lifestyle changes.

Our health focus was more on COVID-19 as we learnt to comply with the SOPs to prevent and control the disease.

COVID-19 could kill; so can non-communicable diseases too.

Something to reflect on, have we done enough to prevent and control non-communicable diseases as we did to stay protected from COVID-19?

In conjunction with the World Health Day on April 7, let’s draw our attention to non-communicable diseases which have contributed about 71% of deaths globally.1

Unlike COVID-19, non-communicable diseases are often long duration and slow-progressing.2

Of the many non-communicable diseases, cardiovascular disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death in Malaysia in 2021.

The global disease burden data in Malaysia also showed that high blood pressure is the main contributing factor to most disability and death in the country.3

Stay healthier by choice to keep our blood pressure in control:

  1. Take more fruits, vegetables, wholegrain foods, legumes and low-fat dairy foods.
  2. Reduce sodium, sweets, sweetened drinks and processed foods.
  3. Limit food with high saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fat.
  4. Exercise in moderate activities for at least 150 minutes a week.
  5. Keep in healthy weight within Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2.
  6. Quit smoking.
  7. Limit alcohol intake and avoid if possible.
  8. Manage stress using relaxation techniques (i.e. deep breathing techniques).
  9. Get psychosocial support to keep motivated from friends and family.
  10. Approach the nearby Ministry of Health Wellness Hub ( for expert guidance and support in cultivating a healthy lifestyle.
  11. Regular health screening at least once a year. Seek medical attention immediately as soon as there is any symptom of non-communicable diseases.

Changing lifestyles into healthier ones requires a lot of willpower and perseverance. Hence, a supportive environment and community are important in fostering healthier lifestyles in the society.

Beginning with ourselves, we could start working on ourselves to live healthier and be role models for others to eventually build a healthier social norm.

So, walk closely towards the healthier choices and move away from unhealthy lifestyle.

Choose to live healthier today and stay protected from non-communicable diseases.


  1. World Health Organisation. 2021. Noncommunicable Diseases Fact Sheet.
  2. Department of Statistics Malaysia. 2021. Statistics on Causes of Death, Malaysia, 2021
  3. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). 2020. Malaysia Global Burden Data.

(Dr. Yoong Lee Yeen and Prof. Dr. Moy Foong Ming, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya.)


Professor Dr. Moy Foong Ming
Non-communicable diseases
Dr. Yoong Lee Yeen


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