The first ever global trends for adolescent insufficient physical activity show that urgent action is needed to increase physical activity levels in the girls and boys aged 11 to 17 years.
The study, produced by researchers from the World Health Organization WHO, finds that more than 80 per cent of school-going adolescents globally did not meet current recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity per day- including 85 per cent of girls and 78 per cent of boys.
The study- which is based on data reported by 1.6 million 11 to 17-year-old students- finds that across all 146 countries studied between 2001-2016 girls were less active than boys in all but four (Tonga, Samoa, Afghanistan and Zambia). The difference in the proportion of boys and girls meeting the recommendations was greater than 10 percentage points in almost one in three countries in 2016 (29 per cent, 42 of 146 countries), with the biggest gaps seen in the United States of America and Ireland (more than 15 percentage points). Most countries in the study (73 per cent, 107 of 146 countries) saw this gender gap widen between 2001 and 2016 respectively.
The authors say that levels of insufficient physical activity in adolescents continue to be extremely high, compromising their current and future health. ‘’Urgent policy action to increase physical activity is needed now, particularly to promote and retain girls’ participation in physical activity’’ says study author Dr Regina Guthold, WHO.
The health benefits of a physical active lifestyle during adolescence, WHO says include improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone and cardio metabolic health, and positive effects on weight. The group further indicated that there is also growing evidence that physical activity has a positive impact on cognitive development and socializing. Current evidence suggests that many of these benefits continue into adulthood.
To achieve these benefits, the WHO recommends for adolescents to do moderate or vigorous physical activity for an hour or more each day. The authors estimated how many 11-to 17-year-olds do not meet this recommendation by analysing data collected through school-based surveys on physical activity levels. The assessment included all types of physical activity, such as time spent in active play, recreation and sports, active domestic chores, walking and cycling or other types of active transportation, physical education and planned exercise.
To improve levels of physical activity among adolescents, the study recommends that urgent scaling up is needed of known affective policies and programmes to increase physical activity in adolescents, as well as multisectoral action to offer opportunities for young people to be active, involving education, urban planning, road safety amongst others. The highest level of society, including national, city and local readers, the group said, should promote the importance of physical activity for the health and well-being of all people, including adolescents.
‘’The study highlights that young people have the right to play and should be provided with the opportunities to realise their right to physical and mental health and wellbeing. Strong political will and action can address the fact that four in every five adolescents do not experience the enjoyment and social, physical and mental health benefits of regular physical activity. Policy makers and stakeholders should be encouraged to act now for the health of this and future young generations’’ says Dr Fiona Bull, co-author of the study.
Physical activity trends show slight improvement for boys, none for girls, the study confirms. The new study estimated for the first time how trends changed between 2001-2016- applying the trends from 73 countries who did repeat surveys during that period to all 146 countries. Globally, the prevalence of insufficient physical activity slights decreased in boys between 2001 and 2016, from 80 per cent to 78 per cent, but there was no change over time in girls, remaining around 85 per cent.
The authors note that if these trends continue, the global target of a 15 per cent relative reduction in insufficient physical activity- which would lead to a global prevalence of less than 70 per cent by 2030- will not be achieved. This target was agreed to by all countries at the World Health Assembly in 2018.
In 2016, Philippines was the country with the highest prevalence of insufficient activity aiming boys at 93 per cent, whereas South Korea showed highest levels among girls at 97 per cent, and both genders combined at 94 per cent. Bangladesh was the country with the lowest prevalence of insufficient physical activity among boys, girls and both genders combined (63 per cent, 69 per cent and 66 per cent respectively), the study said.
Some of the lowest levels of insufficient activity in boys were found in Bangladesh, India and the USA. The authors note that the lower levels of insufficient physical activity in Bangladesh and India (where 63 per cent and 72 per cent of boys were insufficiently active in 2016, respectively) may be explained by the strong focus on national sports like cricket. However, the US rates (64 per cent) may be driven by good physical education in schools, pervasive media coverage of sports, and good availability of sports clubs such as ice hockey, American football, basketball or baseball.
For girls, the study said the lowest levels of insufficient activity were seen in Bangladesh and India, and are potentially explained by societal factors, such as increased domestic chores in the home of girls. ‘’The trend of girls being less active than boys is concerning. More opportunities to meet the needs and interests of girls are needed to attract and sustain their participation in physical activity through adolescence and into adulthood’’. To increase physical activity for young people, the group advised that governments need to identify and address the many causes and inequities- social, economic, cultural, technological and environmental- that can perpetuate the differences between boys and girls.
‘’Countries must develop or update their policies and allocate the necessary resources to increase physical activity. Policies should increase all forms of physical activity, including through physical education that develops physical literacy, more sports, active play and recreation opportunities- as well as providing safe environments so young people can walk and cycle independently. Comprehensive action requires engagement with multiple sectors and stakeholders, including schools, families, sport and recreation providers, urban planners, and city leaders’’ said Dr Bull.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.