July 15, 2024
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The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) commemorated Employee Wellness Week (EWW), along with the rest of South Africa, during the period 1st to  5th  July 2024. EWW is an annual campaign designed to create awareness on the importance of maintaining the health and wellbeing of employees in the workplace and within their home and social environments.

Throughout EWW, the Foundation aims to educate private and public sector employers and employees about workplace wellness, with a focus on heart and brain health; as well as the associated conditions such as hypertension. The Foundation’s health promotion and disease prevention programmes facilitates  developing an enabling environment within and outside the workplace. These programmes are largely defined by health talks and conducting health risk assessments (screening) for existing risk factors for ill health in order to recommend specific interventions. Positive health behavior changes are promoted for behavioral risk factors such as tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and accessing health services. The Foundation’s Employee Wellness Program offers the following benefits: sustaining a productive workforce, lowering absenteeism and risk of disability, lowering the risk of occupational conditions and becoming a proactive employer who adopts a holistic approach to promote and preserve heart and brain health.

The HSFSA  uses a holistic approach, to address key issues relating to employee wellness, including physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual components of health. Keeping in mind that we are complex beings, our health requires a multifaceted approach. As the WHO constitution states: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” As health is also an individual responsibility, the Foundation encourages employees by providing practical ideas on how they could improve their overall health.

The Foundation is calling on employers to empower their workforce by employing the HSFSA to perform the EWP on their staff. The trained health professionals at the Foundation help employees understand that being healthy is about long term healthy habits and offers ways to create healthy environments and behaviors to promote productivity and reduce absenteeism in the workplace, and enhance social well-being.

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The employer may expect the employee wellness programme to offer different mechanisms in the form of health information sharing (health talks and/or educational reading material), health risk assessments (HRAs), individual counseling and guidance on specific behavioral modifications, as well as offering referrals for those at high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The HRAs include blood pressure screenings, blood cholesterol testing, blood glucose testing and Body Mass Index (BMI).

Sustaining healthy employees begins in a healthy workplace. The HSFSA understands the  challenging environment that employees sometimes find themselves in and are often affected by the demands of the job. Creating health-enabling environments to reduce workplace stress and offering health conscious food items in vending machines or canteens, as well as offering water stations and creating the space for physical activity takes a large stride in creating productive healthy employees. More practical ideas are discussed during the employee wellness programme.

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Nutrition is a key aspect of maintaining good health and the Heart Mark Food Endorsement programme is part of ongoing efforts by the HSFSA to reduce the number of deaths in South Africa from preventable heart disease and strokes by guiding food manufacturers and consumers about what constitutes a healthy food product. The Heart Mark programme forms part of a health-enabling environment offering consumers a tool which makes choosing healthier foods easier. Our market research shows that 8 out of 10 (80%) adults instantly recognise the Heart Mark logo, and associate the logo with healthy eating and a sense of credibility. Approved by the National Department of Health, the endorsement program works with food manufacturers to improve food formulation. Ms Shoni Nephalama, the HSFSA dietitian states that the Heart Mark guideline is not a diet, but rather a guaranteed way to purchase  food lower in salt, sugar, saturated fats and higher in fiber.

Prof. Pamela Naidoo, CEO, of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa states that: “Employee wellness is not just about wellness in the workplace but health holistically, which includes cardiovascular health. Wellness starts in the home environment, in the communities in which we live and places of work. Of course, all of these components of the various aspects of your life, including mental health, influence your wellbeing at the end of the day. So, do take care of all of those important factors like exercise, dietary factors and other risk factors, such as refraining from tobacco smoking, to enjoy a good employee wellness that can make your work much more productive”.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa is reliant on its core ability to generate sustainable business practices in the delivery of its aims, objectives and mission. The company’s business development function prides itself on its ability to script its development work in the formal delivery of Health Risk Assessments (HRA’s) through corporate clients. Corporate entities serve as a key donor entity  for  the work that we undertake  at the HSFSA, serving as key customers, valued investors and core beneficiaries of lifesaving health interventions.

Throughout 2024, the HSFSA requires your ongoing support ensuring that they are able to continue their valued community work across the various underserved areas within South Africa. This is vital and the Foundation’s business development function is in place to ensure that they follow through on their undertaken business development priorities, specifically the delivery of HRA’s and large-scale campaigns where education and knowledge dissemination to the public are prioritized. Employers may contact any of the offices to find out more about using the Foundation’s employee wellness services.

For more information visit www.heartfoundation.co.za. You can also find us on www.facebook.com/HeartStrokeSAwww.twitter.com/SAHeartStroke and www.instagram.com/heartstrokesa_

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