Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson has commended the focus on promoting healthy lifestyles in schools in observing Caribbean Wellness Day to be observed on Saturday, September 8.
The minister said Jamaica has joined with the rest of the countries of the Caribbean Community in remaining committed to the fight against non-communicable diseases as stated in 2007, as part of the Port-of-Spain Declaration, which saw countries in the region "uniting to stop the epidemic of chronic non-communicable diseases".
"Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a major concern for Jamaica. 2009 figures show that NCDs accounted for approximately 60 per cent of death among men and 75 per cent of deaths among women, more than what was recorded as a result of motor vehicle accidents," said Minister Ferguson.
He further stressed that these diseases are no longer age-specific and also affect children and adolescents. It is fitting, therefore, that this year the focus of Caribbean Wellness Day is on healthy schools. This sends a poignant message to stem the culture of negative lifestyle practices from among the very young so that the nation can reap the rewards in the future.
He noted that over the years, initiatives had been put in place to encourage healthy lifestyle habits including increased physical activity, a healthy diet which includes more fruits and vegetables, a reduction in alcohol consumption and cessation of smoking. These actions can lead to a reduced burden of NCDs on Jamaica, he observed.
The health-promoting schools initiative is being undertaken in partnership with the Ministry of Education.