COMPANIES can play a pivotal role in helping reduce risk of preventable health issues by implementing policies to inculcate a healthy lifestyle culture at the workplace, according to the Health Ministry.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said companies could provide space for fitness facilities and allocate time for employees to participate in recreational activities at the workplace.

“With workplaces changing and growing in line with technological advancement, their (companies) policies and culture also need to adapt and change with the times to suit the health and well-being needs of their employees,” he said when opening Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace Summit 2019 in Petaling Jaya.All over the world the rate of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol have become the leading cause of death, he said.

“Close to 50% of adult Malaysians are either overweight or obese.”

Data shows that about 3.5 million Malaysians (17.5%) have been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, and another 9.2% of the population either remain undiagnosed or untreated.

“Income level, social status, education background and working conditions continue to shape and affect our health, sometimes in ways that are beyond our control,” said Dr Lee.

“The Government has implemented various measures to address these problems over the past year.

“The nationwide smoking ban, programme for the rehabilitation of malnourished children, healthcare protection scheme for low-income families (PeKa B40) and the sugar tax are all part of our efforts to help Malaysia become a healthier and developed nation.

“But we cannot do it alone. Which is why we welcome initiatives like the Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace Summit that helps to create such awareness.

“I do hope that each and everyone of us take ownership and responsibility for our own health,” he added.

Promoting healthy lifestyle at workplace was certainly a major step forward in shared responsibility for health, said Dr Lee.

He was pleased to note encouraging corporate sector participation in the summit aimed at sharing experiences and holding discourse on healthy workplace culture.

“It shows a real and sincere effort by organisations from all over Malaysia to provide a better workplace environment for their employees, and to truly make a positive impact,” he said.

Dr Lee said collective effort was needed to promote the overall health and well-being of the Malaysian workforce.

“The ministry is happy to support initiatives like this as we work together towards a healthier and productive workforce,” he added.