In real terms, this means that those countries that fail to include their senior citizens’ in pro-active and preventative healthcare programmes will see a significant – and maybe even crippling – increase in their health care costs. It is then fitting that, as we celebrate World Health Day this year, the focus is on securing the health of our older people.
This year’s theme, Ageing and Health: Good Health Adds Life to Years, promotes good health throughout one’s entire life to ensure a happy and productive older age. It also includes World Health Organization’s call on countries to implement pro-active healthcare initiatives and provide access to basic primary healthcare, long-term care and palliative care.
In this regard, I am pleased to note this call to action has consistently been the charge of the Public Health Department and the Health Services Authority’s primary healthcare initiatives, such as the Be Fit Cayman! campaign and the CayHealth programme.
For instance, one of the primary objectives of the Be Fit Cayman! Campaign is to create an awareness of the link between living a healthy lifestyle and the prevention and reduction of illness, noting especially non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. This campaign also serves to empower people to make the right choices to live a healthier and more productive life in later years.
While health education is important to change attitudes, the right kind of medical care is also important in reducing the burden of illness. In this regard, the CayHealth programme provides for a coordinated primary healthcare approach, giving people access to a primary care physician, medication care in their community, health education and healthy lifestyles programmes. For this reason my Ministry is providing critical funding to the Health Services Authority for the CayHealth programme where it is envisioned that a significant reduction in healthcare costs can be realised in the projected future.
While the government has its share of responsibility, we must individually become advocates and active partners in shaping our health and the health of this nation. It is in this context on World Health Day [7 April], I challenge you to invest in your health. Be Fit Cayman!
Minister of Health