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South Africans really unhealthy, public health sector needs improvement - report

An academic article published by Stellenbosch University's Family Medicine Department revealed the sorry state of South Africans Health and highlights the importance of drastically improving the public healthcare sector.

Picture: Suplied

CAPE TOWN - South Africa might be synonymous with sunshine and the salubrious great outdoors, but it turns out our citizens are among the unhealthiest on Earth.

An academic article published by Stellenbosch University's Family Medicine Department revealed the sorry state of South Africans' health and highlights the importance of drastically improving the public healthcare sector.

The Indigo Health Index considered ten factors including obesity, alcohol abuse, diabetes and tobacco use and South Africa comes out looking pretty bad.

More than 28% of adults in the country are considered obese.

Family Medicine Professor at Stellenbosch University, Bob Mash, says the primary healthcare sector needs to up its game when it comes to diagnosing depression.

“If you look at the conditions that are diagnosed in South African primary care, depression is way down the list. So actually our problem in South Africa is very common, but we're missing it."

Mash believes that the only way to turn the tide is to prioritise prevention in the public health sector.

"Visiting households, looking at what the health risks are in the households and looking more at prevention and promotion rather than sort of health workers sitting in clinics waiting for people to come and complain of ill health."

World Health Organisation's statistics show that around 26% of the population between the ages of 30 and 70 are likely to die from cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer.