Considering the continuous growth of non-communicable diseases (NCD) in the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) adopts innovative and persistent policies to try to reduce the incidence of NCDs in the Americas, such as the Plan of Action for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, which is based on the United Nations’ Political Declaration on Non-Communicable Diseases.
The Wellness Week was created by PAHO/WHO in 2011, with the aim of translating the commitments of the United Nations (UN) Declaration into concrete actions in the countries of the region of the Americas. This initiative was developed based on the Wellbeing Day of the Caribbean, which has been celebrated by English-speaking Caribbean countries every September, since 2009. Basically, the initiative promotes the importance of keeping healthy habits to prevent non-communicable diseases, and to teach effective ways to reduce their risks, in addition to favoring environments that offer opportunities for a healthy life. Under the theme “Let us talk about our well-being”, the 2017 Wellness Week promotes mental wellbeing in the spaces where we learn, work and have fun”. During the Wellness Week, the countries of the Americas get together to participate in the celebrations that report good experiences of health promotion and wellbeing, involving all sectors to approach determinants of health and to improve access to healthcare services, with focus on vulnerable groups to promote health with equality.
Actions in BIREME
Every year since 2012, BIREME celebrates the Wellness Week, through activities like lectures with healthcare professionals, and educational activities and practices with specialists, including dietitians and physical educators, to build awareness among its employees on the importance of having healthy living habits for physical and mental health and wellbeing. Moreover, since May 2017, an occupational gymnastics program was implemented through cooperation with Universidade Paulista (UNIP), facilitated by physical education students led by Prof. Sergio Hiroshi F. de Carvalho, Assistant Coordinator of the Physical Education Program of the University, in two weekly sessions.
Thus, to celebrate the 2017 Wellness Week, BIREME invited Prof. Dr. Pablo Sergio Boggio, Professor of the Graduate Program on Developmental Disorders and of the Psychology Program of the Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie to give to the lecture “Neuroscience of Human Relationships”. The lecture addressed human behavior aspects related to interpersonal relationships, like recognition, gratitude, altruism, happiness, and wellbeing. Then, Prof. Sergio, talked about “Physical activity, nutrition and health”.
The presentations engaged the attention of employees, who discussed the themes with the speakers. According to Prof. Sergio Hiroshi de Carvalho, “participating in the Wellness Week was a great pleasure, because as a healthcare professional, BIREME was so beneficial to my studies, that I am happy to contribute to the health and the wellbeing of its employees. It is an amazing environment!”
About Non-Communicable diseases
There is a growing awareness of the impact of non-communicable diseases and the number of deaths they can cause, which exceeds 40 million people each year, which is equivalent to 70% of deaths worldwide..
Moreover, there is an increasing association between communicable diseases (CD) and non-communicable diseases (NCD) in low and high-income countries and between the rich and the poor. In low and medium-income countries, adults continue to be affected by communicable diseases, such as the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) caused by HIV, and tuberculosis (TB). At the same time, they are more and more threatened by non-communicable diseases, like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Recent global data show that every year about 1.1 million people die of tuberculosis; 1.5 million people die of HIV/AIDS, almost 5 million die of diabetes, and more than 9 million people die of diseases related to hypertension. Most of those deaths are premature. Reducing them at global scale will not only require implementing specific treatments for each disease, but also recognizing important interactions between different diseases, and synergies and useful benefits that may be obtained with the overlapping of treatments and strategies. For example, HIV and TB are strongly associated. HIV increases the risk of tuberculosis, one of the most significant opportunistic infections and a prevalent cause of death among HIV/AIDS patients. In another example, there is an important association between tuberculosis and diabetes, both types 1 and 2. The disease increases the risk of getting TB by a factor of three or two. In 2012, the number of adult cases of TB associated to diabetes was estimated to be slightly over one million.
These examples serve to illustrate the fact that it is increasingly evident that caring for the prevention of NCDs, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, some cancers associated with lifestyles, can improve resistance to certain communicable diseases.
 WHO. Non-communicable diseases. 2017. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs355/en/. Accessed on 1 oct. 2017.
 Harries AD, Kumar AMV, Satyanarayana S, et al. Communicable and non-communicable diseases: connections, synergies and benefits of integrating care. Public Health Action. 2015;5(3):156-157. doi:10.5588/pha.15.0030.