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Chronic diseases are the greatest burden on healthcare in Jamaica, with over 60 per cent of admissions to hospitals across the island related to these conditions, said Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Fund (NHF), Hugh Lawson.
He said that apart from affecting one’s ability to work and be productive, chronic diseases impact on family income and increases poverty.
Mr. Lawson was delivering the keynote address at the media launch of the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East’s Bikeathon 2009/Jamaica Challenge yesterday (May 14) at the Sunset Beach Resort and Spa in St. James.
Citing statistics from the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2007-2008, he stated that over the past 50 years, the major cause of disability and death has changed from communicable and infectious diseases to chronic non-communicable diseases.
He said the survey found that 150,000 Jamaicans in the 15 to 74 age group have diabetes mellitus and one quarter of them also suffer from high blood pressure.
Mr. Lawson blamed lack of physical or recreational activity for the high incidence of non-communicable diseases, pointing out that the survey further revealed that in excess of 50 per cent of persons with a chronic condition were categorised as having low physical activity levels.
“As individuals, we must take responsibility for our health,” he said, while urging persons to walk more rather than driving or taking the bus to school or work.
He pointed out that “encouraging our children to get physically active rather than just playing computer games, not only enhances a healthy nation, but channels our young adults to be high achievers in areas of sports, an area where we as Jamaicans, hopefully, will continue to be world leaders.”
He advised further that regular, moderate to intense physical activity along with proper diet have both curative and protective health benefits.
The Rotary Club of Montego Bay East’s Bikeathon 2009/Jamaica Challenge will take place on Sunday, May 31, with the start and finish points at the Ironshore Industrial Estate. This year marks the 14th staging of the event, which is the primary fund raising activity of the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East.
Proceeds go towards the granting of scholarships to needy students within the Montego Bay area.
Approximately 200 riders, walkers and joggers, in both the adult and children categories, are expected to participate in the event, which is endorsed by the Jamaica Cycling Federation.