Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1363, (5 - 11 October 2017)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1363, (5 - 11 October 2017)

Ahram Weekly

The Great Pyramid goes red

Mai Samih watches as the Great Pyramid is lit up in red to mark this year’s International Heart Day

The Great Pyramid goes red
Al-Ahram Weekly

On 29 September every year, cities around the world light up key monuments in red to mark International Heart Day organised by the World Heart Federation (WHF). 

This year, the Egyptian Association for Heart Disease (EAHD) in cooperation with the “You Are More Important” Campaign, the National Council for Women (NCFW), the International Federation for Medical Student Associations, the Egyptian Health Organisation and the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) lit up the Great Pyramid of the Pharaoh Khufu on the Giza Plateau on the eve of International Heart Day.

The event was entitled Rodd Qalbi, or give back my heart, symbolising the efforts of these organisations to help people improve the health of their hearts and raise awareness of heart disease. 

“International Heart Day takes place every year on 29 September. The aim can be summarised in a couple of words — increasing awareness about heart disease,” head of the EAHD Sameh Shahine said, adding that people in general should be more aware of the dangers of this disease and the treatments that are available for it.

“In Egypt, cardiovascular disease is widespread, and the mortality rates are high, being five times higher than in Western countries. This is due to bad eating habits, lack of exercise, stress and smoking,” Shahine said, adding that too many people did not respect laws banning smoking in public places like schools and hospitals. Teachers sometimes smoke in front of their students and doctors in front of their patients, and this should be banned by law, he said.

“We have problems of obesity, which cause hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol levels. Hydrated oils are used in many food industries, and these make the problems worse, adding to the stress on the arteries and the heart,” Shahine commented. Nearly half of all Egyptian men smoke, making them more vulnerable to heart disease, he said.

The Great Pyramid goes red

“For International Heart Day, each country chooses an important monument to light up in red, and we chose the Great Pyramid, the monument that best represents us to the world,” Shahine said, adding that this was the second year in a row that the event had been celebrated. 

Manager of the National Programme for Rheumatic Heart Disease at the Ministry of Health Alaa Al-Ghamrawi said the programme aimed to eliminate this disease by 2020 under the slogan “together for abolishing heart rheumatism”. 

The disease could start from a simple throat infection, which if not treated correctly could cause bacteria to migrate to the heart, seriously damaging it. People should take especial care in treating such infections, especially mothers and children, and they should not hesitate to ensure that such infections are treated with antibiotics in order to ward off the danger of later developing rheumatic heart disease, he said. 

For founder of the “You Are More Important” Campaign Amr Hassan, the aim of the day is to spread awareness of heart disease more generally. 

“If you ask women which disease they fear the most, they may say breast cancer. But the fact is that in real life the number one killer of women is heart disease. The WHF wanted people to take photographs of themselves in front of buildings lit up in red to promote International Heart Day. And this is where we got the idea of lighting up the Great Pyramid. People from all around the world will share these pictures, and the best ones will be those of the Pyramid,” he said.

The Great Pyramid goes red

Rodd Qalbi, the name of the campaign, is all about what people can do to ensure heart health. In the past, exercise events have been organised, along with events for children to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking. 

One of these ,the curent event,was organised at a famous hotel near the Pyramids and attended by distinguished guests including actor Ashraf Zaki, head of the National Authority for Journalism Karam Gabr, Heliopolis MP Medhat Al-Sherif and TV host Howeida Abu Heif. It lasted two days and featured a charity bicycle marathon near the Giza Pyramids. There was a blood donation campaign and blood-sugar and blood-pressure scanning for the participants. Awards were given to the winners of the bicycle race, and a yoga session organised by the Indian Embassy in Cairo.

“We want to help NGOs that seek to raise awareness about the heart, the dynamo of the human body,” Al-Sherif said, adding that the role of NGOs was to help the government in raising awareness and improving people’s lives.

The Great Pyramid goes red

“The EHAD is organising a campaign to raise awareness by saying no to fatty foods, no to smoking and yes to exercise. We need to convey these slogans to the people and to point out their importance for ending cardiovascular disease,” Al-Ghamrawi commented.

“Just as any woman should know her phone number, she should know her blood pressure, blood-sugar level, and cholesterol level. High numbers on these tests can spell heart disease. They should also monitor their weight. People should be encouraged to practise sports, and this is why we organised the bike marathon in the Pyramids area. They should also avoid smoking altogether,” Hassan said, who added that people should eat more food with fibre and lead a healthier life style to avoid heart disease.

The Great Pyramid goes red

“We need the government to implement the law that bans smoking, and schools should help us by providing children with correct medical information. We need to work on exercise in schools, not necessarily just building more playgrounds. The role of the media is also very important in this regard,” Shahine commented, adding that people who felt they did not have time for exercise could practice yoga.

“We want the government to support NGOs in their efforts and to support them in their work to serve society,” Al-Sherif said. “It is for this reason that the new investment law earmarks a percentage of company revenues for NGOs, subtracting this from company taxes,” he added.

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