Volunteers spread healthy habits among Hong Kong minorities
Ethnic groups may face hurdles accessing public health information when their main language is neither Chinese nor English
Ethnic minorities in Hong Kong may be at increased risk of premature death and chronic diseases because of the difficulty in accessing public information about healthcare and lifestyles in Chinese and English, which are the two official languages in Hong Kong, says Tika Rana, the director of a group trying to help combat this.
The Ethnic Minority Health and Education Service Hong Kong – or EMHESHK– is trying to promote a healthy lifestyle among Hong Kong’s ethnic minority community, particularly Nepalese, by regularly organizing hiking and body check activities for them.
At least four Nepalese aged between their early 20s and late 50s died in Hong Kong from unknown causes at the end of March 2017, Rana said. However, “the incidence rate of sudden death among ethnic minority [Nepalese] is still unknown.”
Heart disease remains the top global killer, with 17.3 million deaths every year. In Hong Kong, deaths from acute myocardial infarction or other ischemic heart diseases increased 7.14% to 4,293 in the year ended March 31, 2015, Hospital Authority data show. Admissions for the diseases jumped 13.08% to 33,772. Breakdown by nationality is not available.
Prevent immature deaths
EMHESHK was set up to provide ethnic minorities with healthcare messages in their own languages, said Rana, a trained nurse, adding that the Nepalese community is one of the group’s targets.
There are about 548,000 non-Chinese people in Hong Kong, about 8% of the total population, according to Census and Statistic Department. About 89% of the total population communicate in Chinese.
Two hiking activities have been held in Tai Tong Nature Trail in Yuen Long in New Territories West so far this year with more than 40, mostly Nepalese participants.
During the hiking, participants can enjoy free health checkups, which include a measure of blood glucose, blood pressure, body weight and body mass index (BMI). The body check is conducted by volunteer Nepalese nurses.
“We want to encourage people to do aerobic exercise regularly,” Rana said. “Post-event checkups can help participants to understand and keep track of their health conditions.”
“Adopting healthy lifestyle and behavior can play a crucial role in preventing such immature deaths among the ethnic minorities in Hong Kong,” she said.
The next hiking adventure is planned for June, followed by a camping activity targeting elderly people in July.
Last Friday, EMHESHK won two awards from the Occupational Safety and Health Council Awards f0r its project namely “Love your Family and Work Safely”, which provided free health check-ups and seminars to local Nepalese workers in late 2015.