United Front Required to Fight NCDs

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Monday 10th September, 2018-Minister of Health and the Environment, Molwyn Joseph says a united front is needed to wage a war against non-communicable diseases.

Speaking on the eve of Caribbean Wellness Day, Minister Joseph said:

“It is the view of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment that the ideals, spirit, and objectives of Caribbean Wellness Day must be championed by our nation, each and every day of the year and must extend, at all times, to all communities, at work, at school and in our urban and rural spaces. Only a unified, consistent and relentless assault against non-communicable diseases and its risk factors will ensure victory against this menace in our midst.”

He stated that seven of every ten deaths in Antigua and Barbuda, and in the wider Caribbean, are attributable to non-communicable diseases. Many of these deaths are preventable he noted. These NCDs threaten not only good health and life but also undermine our work productivity, and by extension, our economic growth and national development.

Caribbean Wellness Day seeks to (1) increase awareness of the health and economic burdens of non-communicable diseases in the Caribbean, (2) to mobilize and strengthen public, private and civil society partnerships to confront and to reduce and control NCDs and (3) to promote multi-country, multi-sectoral activities in support of wellness and showcase national and community level activities in support of healthy living and to encourage citizens to develop good health practices, and will be celebrated under the theme: “Healthy Communities: Preserving the Workforce. Individuals are being urged to ‘Be Healthy, Stay Healthy, It’s Your Job.’

The health minister highlighted that during the course of this week, focus should be placed on workplaces, and for employers and employees to seek common ground in order to provide the space for wellness to flourish, be it in the form of regular physical exercises, support for breastfeeding mothers and the implementation of healthy nutrition practices.

Minister Joseph is optimistic that the evils of unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and alcohol abuse can be neutralized, thereby reducing the rate of NCDs in the country. He said the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has made a giant step towards this end by the passage of the Tobacco Control Act. Next, we intend to increase our efforts to reduce the rate of obesity, especially among our children, by regulating sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).