LETTER | Indeed, while our religions teach us to accept sudden deaths as the will of God, as humans we must also take personal and collective responsibility.
Lately we have lost some Members of Parliament and elected representatives in government owing to 'sudden deaths'.
We also know of those in leadership positions coping with health issues, with some even collapsing in Parliament or while on the job.
While we may all marvel at our prime minister's long life that boasts of blessed health, we cannot say the same for many of our elected leaders.
In fact, many Malaysians are suffering from heart-related issues and diabetes.
The number of Malaysians seeking medical care while in their early forties and upon retiring is indeed very worrying.
Merely taking comfort under the religious canopy of beliefs may actually prevent us from re-examining the critical and more fundamental perspectives of lifestyles, diet and responsible personal, communal, and organisational care.
While our schools do cursory or obligatory teaching of health science, it is very clear that the Malaysian lifestyle, diet and working conditions have long neglected the need to be well-informed citizens who place paramount importance on good health, early diagnosis and even a preventive approach to healthier living.
When we examine our eating habits - on the job and elsewhere, we need to acknowledge that we are very low on knowledge.
We live by our tastebuds.
When we look at working conditions, we must have the honesty to state that many employers only give lip service to healthy lifestyles.
Working long hours is a culture we have been silently endorsing.
It is about time to take several steps back and ask our government: is the rage and race to be a developed world, and making profits and expanding businesses not the main cause for the declining health of Malaysians across the board?
We have been reduced to becoming informed, knowledgeable and discerning consumers buying, consuming or selling food.
We cannot continue to dismiss the fact that the Malaysian food industry has been left to be driven solely by profit motives and at the expense of a healthier citizenry.
We have to admit that largely Malaysians have no knowledge or are ill-informed and lack a responsible discernment when it comes to eating, relaxation and exercise.
The loss of young and middle-aged leaders is most unfortunate.
And as we see the eating habits of millions of students in universities, who cut corners to get by, we need to acknowledge that we are actually preparing for more disappointments in the long haul.
I must tell our health minister that nationwide smoking bans are just a smokescreen.
Instead we need policies that will force employers and government to ensure that no one works beyond eight hours a day.
That there needs to be political will that gives priority to better working conditions, better choice of food and recreation plus exercise.
A healthy citizenry is the cornerstone of a vibrant economy.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.