ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Information Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb on Thursday stressed the need to spread the message for preventive and healthy living among public to form a healthy society. She was addressing participants of an awareness seminar held to mark the World Health Day at Shifa International Hospital (SIH). Doctors, school children, their parents, teachers and residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad attended the interactive session. Marriyum Aurangzeb, while appreciating the role of mainstream media, also highlighted the significance of the day. She said that World Health Day provided an opportunity for the world community to come together for one day to focus on actions that could improve the health of all people. She appreciated Shifa International Hospital and its management team for taking an initiative by organising the event. She said that public and private cooperation in this regard was needed. “It is a great opportunity to develop a foundation of a healthier society and nation by spreading education and awareness for prevention of diseases. For this, the media should come forward and play an important role in disseminating this message to the broader set of audience, as their social and national responsibility,” she said. Kokab Khawaja, a cooking expert, was the guest of honour and judge of the cooking competition. Farrah Mahmood Rana, a miniature artist, and Shagufta Naheed, a yoga expert, were also present. Dr Salma Siddiqui, NUST Department of Behavioral Sciences head, was the guest speaker. Dr Abdul Wahab Yousafzai, the SIH consultant psychiatrist, said that depression affected people of all ages, from all walks of life. “It causes mental anguish and affects people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds,” he said. Dr Wahab said that depression was an illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoyed, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks. “In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Yet, depression can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of what depression is, and how it can be prevented and treated, will help reduce the stigma associated with the condition, and lead to more people seeking help,” he said. Dr Shahzad Khan Siddique, SIH consultant general medicine, said that all adults should visit their healthcare provider from time to time, even when they were healthy. “The purpose of these visits is to: screen for diseases, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, look for future disease risks, such as high cholesterol and obesity, discuss tips on how to quit smoking, encourage a healthy lifestyle, such as healthy eating and exercise, update vaccinations, maintain a relationship with your health care provider in case of illness and discuss medications or supplements that you are taking,” he said. “In addition to seeing your doctor for regular check-ups, there are things you can do to stay healthy and help lower your risk for diseases. If you already have a health condition, taking these steps can help you manage it. Don’t smoke or use tobacco, exercise at least 150 minutes a week (2 hours and 30 minutes), eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat or non-fat dairy, maintain a healthy weight and always use seatbelts, and use car seats if you have children,” he said. He said that the following tests were important: blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol (blood), colon cancer screening test, depression screening, genetic testing for breast cancer or ovarian cancer in women, HIV test, mammogram, osteoporosis screening, pap smear, tests for Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and other sexually transmitted diseases, Your health care provider can recommend how often you should visit your doctor,” he said.