Health minister Osbourne Bodden has challenged parents and other adults to save children’s lives by encouraging them to adopt healthy lifestyles.
In a message delivered to mark the annual Caribbean Wellness Day which falls on Saturday, Sept. 14, Mr. Bodden said health-care workers are seeing increasingly younger patients suffering from non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes – diseases that are the leading causes of premature death in the region.
The theme of this year’s Caribbean Wellness Day is “Love That Body,” which organizers hope will increase awareness of the importance of nutrition and exercise in reducing the high rate of so-called lifestyle diseases in the region. The Caribbean has the highest rate of such diseases in the Americas.
“Recognizing that [non-communicable diseases] affect children as well as adults, CARICOM has decided to incorporate a sub-theme focused on youth: ‘safeguarding the health of our youth for a brighter future’,” Mr. Bodden said. “Officials explain that this approach is due to the fact that the early years of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood are the best time to foster the kind of lifestyle choices that will prevent the mortality and morbidity experienced by the adult population in the Caribbean.”
He added, “Accordingly, I would like to take this opportunity to challenge parents, friends, family members, youth workers, and all others in the community who care about the health and development of our children to do something each and every day to encourage them to live healthy lifestyles.
“Your actions could save a child’s life.”
The health minister continued that apart from negatively affecting the quality of life of sufferers and their families, chronic diseases impose a huge financial burden on both individuals and governments.
While acknowledging that governments should provide good health care, Mr. Bodden said, “The difference truly does start at home. It begins with the example we set as parents and flows from the simple choices we make in the supermarket and in pursuing our recreational activities.”