(AGENPARL) – METRO MANILA, mer 16 settembre 2020
Why is wellness vital for developing Asia now?
Wellness is vital for developing Asia’s recovery from COVID-19 because physical and mental wellness has taken a battering during the crisis.
A sound mind and a sound body, of course, that’s the first step to rebuilding the economy and the society. In addition, wellness, which means the active pursuit of well-being can also contribute to sustainable development and promote the mental and physical wellness of everybody, including the poor.
With respect to sustainable development goals, wellness is consistent or in line with Sustainable Development Goal 3, which seeks to promote health and well-being of everybody. I think wellness, by providing a more holistic and balanced perspective of development rather than purely focusing on narrow economic growth, does public policy making a big service with, of course, in principle everybody can engage in wellness activities such as exercise in practice of course the poor. They have much less time, much less money, and much less access to wellness activities. Now the government can intervene, can step in more precisely that government build wellness infrastructure such as community recreational centers, as well as parks, public parks, in lower income neighborhoods. So, this will enable and help poor people also participate in wellness activities.
Could wellness be a potential engine of economic growth?
The answer is loud and clear. Yes, because wellness is already a very big part of the world economy. According to the Global Wellness Institute in 2018, the size of the global wellness economy was estimated at $4.5 trillion. Now that’s about 5% of global GDP and in developing Asia, the share of the wellness economy in GDP is even bigger. In 2017, the share of wellness in developing Asia’s GDP was around 11% and not only that, it has been growing quite rapidly, at about 11% per year.
Now, in addition to being major engine of growth, the wellness economy can also contribute to inclusive growth, which is very important. First of all, it’s a major source of jobs. For example, the wellness tourism industry in 2017 generated about 3.7 million jobs in India, 1.8 million jobs in the People’s Republic of China, and 530,000 jobs in Thailand. In the 2nd place, wellness also promotes female employment because many wellness-related occupations tend to be female-dominated. Last but not least, small and medium-sized firms, smaller firms can leverage Asia’s rich tradition of wellness to a create and develop wellness products. So, it’s also good for the growth of SMEs or smaller firms in Asia, so it’s good for inclusive growth in these many different ways.
What are the wellness policies that benefit Asia’s individuals, its economy, and society?
Wellness makes individuals happier and they also make individuals more productive, and in addition, it is a large and growing part of the Asian economy. It’s a big source of economic growth and jobs. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for governments around the region to explicitly incorporate wellness as an objective in their policy making.
There are four kinds of a wellness policies in different policy domains. Cross cutting policy domain.
- Governments should create healthy built environment. For example by prioritizing walkability and physical movement in urban planning. By that I mean make cities more friendly to pedestrians, rather than just friendly to cars. Unfortunately, many Asian cities right now are more friendly to cars then pedestrians.
- Governments can enable and support physical activity by financing, funding wellness facilities and infrastructure, and programs like community recreation centers and parks in poorer neighborhoods.
- Asian policymakers should encourage healthy eating, for example by improving consumer information as well as awareness about healthy diet and healthy nutrition. They can also deploy fiscal incentives or fiscal policy, for example, by taxing sugary drinks and other unhealthy food.
- Governments should try to improve workplace wellness by ensuring a healthy and safe working environment. For example, by strengthening occupational safety standards or pushing for better work-life balance. So, in conjunction with these kinds of policies in the four cross cutting domains that I just talked about, there’s also a lifetime approach, lifetime perspective of wellness policies because wellness is really a lifetime thing. It’s a lifetime issue.
Therefore, if Asian governments combine these cross cutting policies and a lifetime perspective to wellness policies, they can help Asians achieve higher levels of physical and mental wellness, which in turn will help them navigate this stressful and uncertain COVID-19 environment and into a better normal in the post-COVID-19 world.