By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The road to good health is not only rewarding, it also leads to long life if you look after yourself well. However, with the rather stressful lives we live today, leading a healthy lifestyle can be quite difficult. Ultimately, one ends up with the health problems of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high cholesterol, anxiety, stress, and many others. However, in a health-conscious drive to assist its members, the Namibia Medical Care, (NMC) has for the past five years been providing such people with an option to change their health for the better, through the Annual Wellness Programme. The programme, which is given free of charge, is meant for any NMC member who suffers from chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or hypertension, stroke, cardio-vascular diseases, high cholesterol, anxiety and stress, to become healthier. The NMC recently hosted its annual Wellness Programme Awards 2006 for 15 of its members who received cash prizes to the total value of N$38ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000, after they successfully managed to change their health around for the better. The 15 members are said to be part of the 1ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 212 members with chronic conditions who were taken through the programme. A total of 260 new members registered this year. Addressing the NMC members at a local resort in Windhoek on Tuesday this week, Chairperson of the NMC Board of Trustees, Le-Anne Smith, said through medical experts like bio-kinetics, dieticians and a wellness motivator, NMC assists its members to change their lifestyles. This is normally done with the necessary guidance and support. “In today’s busy lifestyle, one finds it difficult to get someone who really cares about your health and not just about your money,” said Smith. During the Arabian-styled ceremony, members were awarded cheques of N$2ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000 and N$4ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000 each for achieving good results in health. Some won the battle against nicotine by quitting smoking completely. Others overcame lifestyle diseases like gout, hypertension and obesity by following a strict health programme coupled with a lot of exercising at the gym. One such person who was awarded the Wellness Brightest Star Award 2006 was 39- year-old Hans Amukugo who drastically lost 24 kilogrammes in just 14 months. He previously weighed between 130 and 140 kilogrammes, but with a more balanced diet and frequent exercise he came down to 104 kilogrammes. The ever-smiling Amukugo was all too happy to tell his story. “It was so difficult for me, always stressed and paying a lot of money to buy dieting tablets and medicines. Clothing is one of the major issues in my life – I never get my size, and the public associated me with food,” said Amukugo, who previously had a problem of obesity before joining the programme. However, with help from NMC, he learned how to eat correctly and more balanced meals away from his usual “pap and vleis.” He urged NMC to rollout the programme to the rural areas as well. Although the office of the Wellness Programme is located in the capital, it has members from all over Namibia, with the majority living in the Windhoek and Walvis Bay representing over 80 percent of its members. There’s a wellness centre at the coast, while there are also NMC members who come from Aranos, Swakopmund, Keetmanshoop, Okahandja, Henties Bay, Rehoboth, Ondangwa, Oshakati and Mariental. Another new and upcoming programme next year includes the Walking Club, starting in Windhoek and Walvis Bay in February 2007.