Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, has said that the Ministry is in the process on finalising preparations to seek Cabinet approval to draft a Tobacco Control Act that would provide sweeping protection against unwanted tobacco exposure.
“Tobacco use remains a leading cause of cancers, heart disease and a range of other avoidable illnesses and we intend to curtail tobacco use in public spaces as one method in reducing these conditions,” Dr. Ferguson said.
He was addressing participants in a seminar on ‘Employees Wellness, a Source for Competitive Advantage: managing wellness in the current and future workforce’ at the 18th International Diabetes Conference, held at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios, on March 30.
Dr. Ferguson stated that, “the impact of smoking, especially in public space is having a tremendous impact on our health delivery services… physical inactivity, poor dietary choices, obesity and tobacco use, are among the leading risk factors causing chronic illnesses”.
He pointed out that this epidemic should not be allowed to take over lives and communities but should be reversed by consistently practicing healthy lifestyles such as healthy eating, regular physical activity, no smoking, responsible consumption of alcohol, and safe sexual practices.
“The focus on prevention also fits seamlessly into my administration’s focus on implementing a transformative patient-centered health delivery system, with an emphasis on restoring and refining primary health care and maximizing the use of both modern and relevant technology. At the regulatory level, this administration is committed to introducing progressive steps that will improve the health prospects of Jamaicans in the short, medium and long term,” Dr. Ferguson noted.
Emphasising that all Jamaicans must take responsibility for their own health and make healthy dietary and lifestyle choices, the Minister of Health called on all everyone to embrace a culture of healthy living.
“We need to get more active. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Recently lifestyle surveys indicate that the majority of Jamaicans are engaged in little or no physical activity, especially among women. The survey reports a total of 96 per cent of women being sedentary or involved in light physical activity compared to 82 per cent men. Parents also need to take the lead in developing an active life style at home and pass this on to their children,” the Minister of Health advised.
The 18th International Diabetes Conference is being held over four days (March 29 to April 1) under the theme, ‘New frontiers in Diabetes Management’ with participation from hundreds of health professionals from across the Caribbean and Latin American region.
Some of the topics deliberated include: Dimensions of wellness and factors that contribute to or against wellness; Rights and responsibilities of employees, employers and other stakeholders in providing a healthy environment that supports wellness; the link between employees’ wellness, morale, commitment, productivity and a healthy bottom line.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Reporter