As mentioned in my previous column, the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organizations (WHO) have renewed their commitment to improve the health of communities, countries, and the world by identifying 17 new health-related goals for the next 15 years, calling them Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).1
SDG goal #3 is devoted to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,” and one of its three top priorities is to “reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases [NCD] through prevention and treatment, by 2030.”2 According to a WHO report, 63% of global deaths in 2008 were due to NCDs—especially cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases—and as the years pass by, deaths from NCD continue to rise worldwide affecting both high and low income populations.3 NCDs are the most frequent causes of death in most countries, except in Africa, but even in African nations, deaths from NCDs are rising fast and “are expected to exceed communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional diseases as the most common causes of death by 2030.”4
The good news is that a large percentage of NCDs are preventable through the reduction of four main health behaviors: tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy diet.
What does this have to do with mission and how can we make a positive impact for Christ in our community? Because many of these SDGs refer to key global health issues, we can use Christ’s method found in the book Ministry of Healing (p. 143), and help meet these needs. This is one of the relevant ways each elder can participate in the effort to Reach the World with a message of hope.
So, how to do this? First, by our example. Choosing healthy behaviors that may reduce premature death in our own lives will benefit not only us, but motivate others to do the same. We can become more intentionally involved, for instance, by increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains daily or by prioritizing physical activity and tracking it daily through fun programs such as InStep for Life.5
Secondly, we can promote these health behaviors in innovative and positive ways among all age groups using the many resources available through Comprehensive Health Ministry resources. We will feature some of these resources as they relate to the top NCDs in the next issues.
As we answer the call for Total Member Involvement in our mission, our example and our efforts to reach others are important. The inspired counsel we have received reminds us, “Let them find out what constitutes true health reform and teach its principles, both by precept and by a quiet, consistent example.”6
May God be glorified as we consider ways we can become more intentionally involved in sharing His love by meeting the health needs of individuals, families, and communities around us, remembering that whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, it should be all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
1 World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/meetings/2015/un-sustainable-development-summit/en/. Or https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/.
6 EGW, Counsels on Health, 334.
Katia Reinert is associate director of the Health Ministries Department for the General Conference.