KINGSTON — President of the University of Technology (UTech), Professor Errol Morrison, has warned that unless the prevalence of chronic communicable diseases, like diabetes, are reduced or eliminated, they could negatively impact productivity.
Speaking at a corporate health and wellness power breakfast, hosted by UTech at Lillian's Restaurant on the university’s Old Hope Road campus in Kingston, Professor Morrison noted that 75 percent of Jamaica’s workforce is afflicted by either diabetes or hypertension, suffers from poor nutrition or experiences any combination of them.
Professor Morrison, who is also chairman of the Diabetes Association of Jamaica as well as UTech's Diabetes Outreach Programme, pointed out that two-thirds of the population is overweight, with half of that number being obese.
"With that kind of excess weight, it leads to problems, which prevent them from delivering maximally at the workplace and, as a result, (there are) poor outcomes at the workplace," he explained.
The UTech President also said the next two decades would witness a 138 per cent increase in number of persons reaching or passing age 65 years, and the productivity level of that aging workforce would not be at the required level.
Professor Morrison pointed to the need for various sector stakeholders to imitate the actions of interests in what he described as the “tiger economies of the east”. He explained that stakeholders in that region, particularly countries on the Asian continent, have instituted initiatives which have been yielding results, including feeding and mandatory exercise programmes.
"As a result of those initiatives, a number of these economies have seen an increase of some 30 per cent, and more, in productivity at the workplace,” he stated.
Professor Morrison said that UTech is also contributing to efforts to reduce the prevalence of diabetes, through its outreach programme.
"Diabetes and other chronic diseases are major public health problems and we are taking a major thrust in that (prevalence reduction) direction,” he stressed.
The wellness and power breakfast was part of activities by the DAJ to mark National Diabetes Week, November 13 to 19, under the theme: "Diabetes; Education and Prevention".
By Douglas Mcintosh, JIS Reporter