Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence â” says health minister in observance of Caribbean Wellness Day WITH non-communicable diseases (NCDs) accounting for over 70 per cent of all deaths in Guyana, the Ministry of Public Health has noted the need to step up the fight against risk factors associated with these illnesses.
In a message to observe Caribbean Wellness Day 2019 on Saturday, Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence said Guyana is losing too many of her citizens to diabetes, cancer, heart diseases and chronic respiratory diseases.
And on that note, said a more aggressive campaign is needed to impact the cross-cutting, modifiable risk factors associated with the NCDs. “Interventions relating to the abuse of alcohol, the harmful use of tobacco and its products, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, have become top priority in order to reduce these risk factors which, cumulatively and separately, are deterrents to healthy lives and general well-being,” the minister said.
She said government has also recognised the importance of getting the nation’s children from an early age to maintain healthy bodies and minds. As such, the Public Health Ministry, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, has initiated health promotion programmes focused on sensitising students about eating healthy.
The focus is to lessen the sugary substances in their meals; increase the intake of water; and encourage their parents and guardians to prepare balanced meals. This is wedded into the national school feeding programme. The schools’ curriculum also places much emphasis on physical well-being to keep students healthy.
SPREAD THE MESSAGE
Dr. Holly Alexander, Chair of the Presidential National Non-Communicable Disease Commission “We believe that this awareness message of healthy bodies and minds can be disseminated from within the school environment to the parents and guardians within the various communities. Our youths must help spread the message of adopting healthy lifestyles to their immediate family in order to bring about desirable health outcomes for our population,” Minister Lawrence said.
She added, “At the other end of the spectrum is our elderly, whom we know tend to be affected by non-communicable diseases as they age. Therefore, it is imperative that we intensify the message, encouraging them to engage in healthy lifestyle practices in order to prevent their chances of developing NCDS. Their wellbeing must be encouraged in this cycle of ageing, so the conversation must focus on developing healthy behaviours which will include regular exercise, healthy eating habits, regular health check-ups, proper use of medication and the overarching issues of tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption.”
CANNOT BE DIVORCED The minister also noted that overall wellness cannot be divorced from mental well-being. “We must promote the mental well-being of all where we can learn, work, play and listen to each other. In other words, as we speak about well-being, we cannot forget mental health – there is no balanced health without mental health,” the minister said, while also reminding all must help patients to build coping skills to understand and manage mental health issues.
Dr. Holly Alexander, Chair of the Presidential National Non-Communicable Disease Commission, said as Guyana observes Caribbean Wellness Day 2019 under the theme ‘Healthy Aging Starts Now’, all must ensure they live a healthy life by adopting a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits.
“There is no doubt that the lifestyle we choose has an impact on our health and whether we develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart issues or other non-communicable diseases. Children, senior citizens, students, women, men, everyone has to be concerned about their health. We all should adopt best practices and healthy habits for ourselves and our near and dear ones,” she urged.
She noted that good nutritional habits should be adopted from birth and since the ‘Breast is Best’, greater attention should be paid to breast feeding.
“The fast-food crave is real but we have to teach our children about making healthy choices. Let them see us make that choice, have a fruit or vegetable salad instead. As adults most of us are faced with the consequences, having adopted bad eating habits. Let us make the switch to healthy eating and exercising today, before it is too late,” she encouraged.