Over the past few years, there has been a great change in the health and wellness sector in Mauritius. In the old days, when someone had a health problem, they went to the dispensary or the nearest hospital, where wounds were bandaged, bones set and pills distributed liberally. With the development from an agricultural towards an increasingly industrial society, hard labour was not as common as before. People now worked in standing and sitting positions and hence burned much fewer calories; but the diet was never really adapted to the new lifestyle. Furthermore an entirely new factor came into play: modern working women did not have the time to prepare meals from scratch.

They started going to the supermarket instead to buy some of those tasty, pre-processed and easy-to-cook meals. This certainly facilitates life, but the new products contain more sugar, starch and oil than was ever put into food before. Foreign food chains burst into Mauritius, offering foodstuffs like hamburgers, fatty chicken and pizza, forming part of the new trend and contributed to the health decline. Caused by the combination of sugar, fat and starch, Mauritians suddenly started suffering from coronary diseases, diabetes and obesity. Something needed to be done.

The government reacted promptly. Health programmes were created, public parks were outfitted with jogging tracks, sports facilities were made available around the island and awareness campaigns broadcasted on all channels. Of course, the public health service is free, but treatment in hospital often involves long waits, and private clinics usually involve high costs, and are unaffordable for many hard-working Mauritians. So, people started to take their health into their own hands. A new word was introduced into the Mauritian vocabulary: Wellness. Wellness means a balance of body, mind and soul, a harmonious lifestyle in the sense of getting enough exercise, eating well, and taking care of yourself.

Propagated by public health services, private clinics and individual doctors alike, today Wellness is the new trend in Mauritius. People nowadays meet at the gym for a workout before or after work, have a quick lunch at the vegetarian restaurant, where they order a vegetable wrap, a fruit smoothie or a salad instead of a 3-course meal with alcohol like in the bygone era.

Alternative shops offer a huge range of health food, trendy tracksuits, yoga mats and a myriad of other fancy, useful and healthy holistic products; some of which even grow naturally in Mauritius and have been used by ancestors, but were temporarily forgotten and are now being rediscovered and re-evaluated, like noni or moringa. The results are stunning and it is to be hoped, that the trend will develop and last for a long time yet to come, as wellness not only prevents illness, but generally augments the quality of life.

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