Caribbean Wellness Day Message from Minister of Health
- Published on Saturday, 08 September 2012 13:05
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St. Kitts and Nevis WINN): Caribbean Wellness Day is observed annually on the second Saturday in September, and showcases national and community level activities to promote healthy living and encourage residents to develop good health practices.
The Day was established by CARICOM Heads of Government as part of their initiative to raise awareness about the physical, economic and social burdens caused by lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, obesity and cancer.
The following is an address by St. Kitts and Nevis Minister of Health, Marcella Liburd on Caribbean Wellness Day 2012:
"Each year since its inception in 2008, Caribbean Wellness Day has been celebrated on the second Saturday in September. The observance of Caribbean Wellness Day was one of the decisions taken when the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government, deeply concerned about the physical, economic and social burden caused by lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases, met in Port of Spain, Trinidad on 15th September 2007 to design a plan of action to stop the epidemic. As in prior years, we join our regional counterparts tomorrow, 8th September 2012, to engage the general public and our partners in activities that promote and sustain healthy lifestyles.
The theme ‘Love that body’ reminds us about our personal responsibility to be good stewards of our bodies, our most precious resource and to exercise our right to make healthy choices such as engaging in regular physical activity, eating a balanced diet, abstaining from smoking and harmful use and abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs. We know that the risk of chronic disease in adulthood is associated with risk exposures throughout our lifespan and so this year, the regional organising committee has called for a special focus on children. Here in the Federation we are witnessing an increase in the number of children diagnosed with diabetes.
I would therefore like to take a minute to talk to the nation’s parents and guardians about their role in the ‘whole of life’ approach to chronic disease prevention. The optimal early nutrition for babies is breast milk. We are advocates of exclusive breastfeeding for the first four to six months as breastfed infants have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and bouts of diarrhoea. In some studies, breastfeeding has been linked to higher intelligence quotient (IQ) scores in children. It also confers a number of advantages on mothers including loss of pregnancy weight as well as decreasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Studies have shown that parents who model the optimal values and healthy lifestyle practices are more successful at inculcating the same in their children. I encourage you to prepare balanced meals and eat with your children as a family. It does make a difference. Decrease the time that children spend with sedentary activities like watching television and playing video games and engage them in active play. When these habits are introduced early, the likelihood of their being sustained in adulthood is increased thus decreasing the risk of chronic non communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Last year in September, St Kitts and Nevis participated in the High Level Meeting in New York to discuss the global priority actions needed to impact on the rising prevalence of chronic non communicable diseases and their risk factors. Since then a global strategy to prevent and control chronic non communicable diseases has been developed and will be presented to Heads of Government this month. A plan of action that amplifies the strategies outlined in the global strategy will be completed in 2013 along with a global monitoring framework to monitor progress towards the achievement of various targets and indicators. Locally we have adapted the regional framework and produced a draft Non Communicable Disease (NCD) policy and strategic plan that will guide our actions for the next five years. This will be submitted to Cabinet shortly for endorsement and approval.
This year a number of activities will occur throughout the month of September that focus on promoting healthy lifestyles. We crave your usual support and cooperation. The Seventh Day Adventist congregation in Sandy Point will host a health fair on 16th September 2012. The venue will be announced shortly. The Cayon Health Centre will host its annual community outreach on 21st September 2012. Members of the general public are encouraged to visit and avail themselves of free screening for blood pressure, blood glucose, body mass index (an indicator of obesity) and HIV. There will also be distribution of literature and individual counselling by our health care providers.
Chronic non communicable diseases and risk factors are everywhere and threaten to increase the number of potential life years lost through disability if not adequately and aggressively addressed. As individuals and as a society, we have a moral duty to contribute to the national response to improve our nation’s health through decisive and effective action. Together we can turn the tide on chronic non communicable diseases one person at a time.
Thank you and God bless."
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