Barbados now has a new National Wellness Initiative in place aimed at tackling the worrying incidents of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the country.
Minister of Health and Wellness Lt Col. Jeffery Bostic announced the initiative, during an event held at National Heroes Square today to commemorate Caribbean Health and Wellness Day 2018.
Speaking to a crowd which included other members of Parliament, Dean of the Cathedral Church of St Michael and All Angels, Rev. Dr Jeffrey Gibson, doctors, other health professionals, as well as members of the public, the minister expressed serious concern about the continued threat of NCDs to the socio economic development of Barbados.
“It is a very serious threat. When we consider the fact that a large percentage of our nation’s children are obese, that is a sign of clear and present danger, and we must do something to fix it. So we at the Ministry of Health and Wellness have decided that we will launch a National Wellness Initiative,” said Bostic.
He explained that the initiative, which is one of many that will be launched during a week of activities, would be comprehensive, cohesive and in conjunction and or collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
“What we are seeking to do now is to harmonise the efforts of all of those NGOs to build on the platforms that they have already established, to collaborate with them, and to make their efforts intertwined with what we are trying to do at the national level, so that we have a national effort going forward,” the minster said even as he disclosed that his ministry would meet with those organizations within the next two weeks discuss the way forward in this joint venture.
The initiative he explained would also be used in several ways at the community level.
“ We are going to use our polyclinics as wellness centres . . . and some of them have already started work in this direction, but we are going to expand the range of wellness services that we want to put out there for the general public. So when you visit a polyclinic, in addition to whatever it is you are going there, there needs to be some wellness activity happening in conjunction or collaboration with the NGOs so that we can spread this message. We also need to take it into the communities by way of introducing community physical activity programmes.
“It is a new national initiative where we will be encompassing all aspects of wellness including spiritual and emotional wellness, psychological wellness and I am pleased that the Psychiatric Hospital has already started a wellness progamme and this is part of the cohesive approach that we are taking in terms of wellness in this country,” the minister added.
He however made it clear that the initiative will only be successful if the necessary conversations take place across ministries and sectors including: vendors, parents, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance.
“We need to have a conversation with the Ministry of Finance because as we seek to impose taxes on the sweet drinks and those categories of food stuff, that we really don’t want the children to be utilizing at all or in any great amount, we also have to have a conversation about a basket of healthy foods that we want our children and our people to be able to consume,” Bostic stated as he introduced the new National Task Force on Wellness, chaired Dr Janelle Bryan.
As part of the day’s activities in The City, Broad Street was closed to vehicular traffic and outfitted with obstacles and fitness courses as well as other health and wellness activities for the general public.