JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The proposed alcohol policy will not be enacted without consultation with industry players, says Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson.
  • Dr. Ferguson pointed out that a control mechanism must be put in place to protect health, as alcohol abuse causes many challenges.
  • Dr. Ferguson told the forum that the Ministry is also partnering with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to tackle obesity, as it contributes significantly to NCDs, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The proposed alcohol policy will not be enacted without consultation with industry players, says Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson.

“We will be consulting with various stakeholders, including the alcohol industry. We understand that this is a business, and we are really referring to the type of drinking that is detrimental to health and has negative consequences,” the Minister explained.

Dr. Ferguson was addressing the annual general meeting of the Jamaica Association of Professionals in Nutrition and Dietetics (JAPINAD), held on August 22, at the University of Technology (UTech), in St. Andrew.

“I have stated over and over that this is not about reducing the production of alcohol, or putting in sanctions to the alcohol industry and their core business, or stopping consumers from purchasing alcoholic products. I am simply concerned about the health effects of irresponsible drinking,” the Minister said.

Dr. Ferguson pointed out that a control mechanism must be put in place to protect health, as alcohol abuse causes many challenges to family members when they develop several of the non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and when it results in road accidents.

“We know of some of the road crashes that force our health institutions to be cancelling one out of three surgeries, because of these emergencies, many of which are driven by alcohol use,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ferguson told the forum that the Ministry is also partnering with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to tackle obesity, as it contributes significantly to NCDs, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

“The matter of unhealthy diet will have to be addressed through partnership with a number of stakeholders, including JAPINAD. It is imperative that we chart a way forward with definitive steps as to how we tackle the effects of unhealthy diet on our population,” the Minister said.

He pointed out that work has started on the diet issue, including meetings with the food industry, and ensuring that information is provided on labels, such as the number calories, portion sizes and nutritional value, to allow consumers to make informed choices.