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Battling the diseases of civilisation


New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists


Battling the diseases of civilisation

World Physiotherapy Day 8 September

Physiotherapists are joining forces in the great world-wide public health war of the 21st century: the war against “the diseases of civilisation” – long-term conditions induced or made worse by inactivity.  Therefore the theme for World Physiotherapy Day, 2008 is Physiotherapy Keeps You Moving.. 

Some of the problems all health professionals must unite to combat include:

Diabetes : 180 million people worldwide have diabetes.

Obesity: 350 million people globally are obese.  Approximately 1.6 million adults and at least 20 million children under the age of 5 years are overweight.

Heart attack and stroke: cardiovascular diseases account for 29% of the world’s deaths, and they are on the rise in developing countries.

Lung diseases: 210 million individuals around the world have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The recent report A Portrait of Health (2008) shows that these conditions are just as prevalent here in New Zealand.

Solutions to these problems are the focus of the New Zealand Primary Health Care Policy. In support of this policy, and to arm its members to fight the war against “the diseases of civilisation” the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists has released its report, Engaging in Primary Health Care.


Research evidence is very clear that being active is key to preventing or improving these conditions, as well as many others – including cancer.  Physiotherapists empower the significant group of high-risk people who are afraid of activity, fearing (often with good reason) that they may make existing conditions worse or increase their chronic pain.   For these people, Push Play advertisements, green prescriptions from doctors, and advice from practice nurses are not enough to get them moving.  They need physiotherapists, who specialise in human movement and have a comprehensive knowledge of disease and injury.

With an advanced understanding of how the body moves and what keeps it from moving well, physiotherapists promote wellness, mobility and independence.  They treat and prevent many problems caused by pain, illness, disability and disease, injuries, and age.  They diagnose, assess and treat individuals, developing a specific activity programme for each, which sometimes includes group exercise classes.

For World Physiotherapy Day (8 September), with its theme of Physiotherapy keeps you moving, physiotherapists around the country are staging events and displays to celebrate their role in keeping New Zealanders moving.


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