Over the past decade, the fight to combat non-communicable diseases(NCDs) has intensified since they account for over 70% of all deaths in Guyana. This is according to Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence.
Despite these efforts, the Public Health Minister noted that “too many of our citizens are affected by diabetes, cancers, heart diseases and chronic respiratory diseases thereby impressing the need for a more aggressive campaign to impact on 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.
With this in mind, Lawrence said that her Ministry recognises the need to “educate our children from an early age about the importance of maintaining healthy bodies and minds.”
In this regard, the Health Ministry in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, has initiated health promotion programmes focusing on sensitising students about the need to eat healthy by: lessening the sugary substances in their meals; increasing the intake of water, and encouraging their parents and guardians to prepare balanced meals.
This is being complemented by government’s school feeding programme. “Of course, the curriculum places much emphasis on physical well-being, ensuring that students are engaged in physical exercise as well as a variety of sports and games. 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,” the Minister said. “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,” she added.
But another end of the spectrum is the elderly, who the Minister said tend to be affected by NCDs as they age. For this reason the Minister stressed the need to “intensify the message, encouraging them to engage in healthy lifestyle practices in order to prevent their chances of developing NCDS.”
The Minister’s remarks on wellness was emphasized this past weekend as Caribbean Wellness Day 2019 was observed. The Wellness Day is observed annually on September 14.
This year it embraced the theme: “Healthy Ageing starts now”.