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  • Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is calling on Jamaicans to “get back to the basics of health” by practising a healthy lifestyle and reducing risks of accidents and injuries.
  • He said that the responsibility for health and wellness begins with each individual, and with “how we live in the environment, interact with each other, how we treat ourselves and a recognition that health and wellness starts at the community level”.
  • Dr. Tufton said that there is significant demand on the public health system, with hospital and health centre visits reaching 1.2 million and 1.9 million, respectively, in 2017. There were 187,000 hospital admissions last year.

Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is calling on Jamaicans to “get back to the basics of health” by practising a healthy lifestyle and reducing risks of accidents and injuries.

He argued that “as a consequence of our own actions, we have impacted our state of public health and the demand on the system”.

He said that the responsibility for health and wellness begins with each individual, and with “how we live in the environment, interact with each other, how we treat ourselves and a recognition that health and wellness starts at the community level”.

“Many of the demands for more and better healthcare would not have been there if, at the community level, people were practising some very basic healthy behaviour,” he stressed.

The country, he said, has lost its way in that regard and needs to “get back to basics”.

“Public health is not just about the number of hospitals we have or surgeries we can perform. Those represent the manifestation of a society that has missed the core fundamentals and principles of sustainable health and wellness,” Dr. Tufton said. “Jamaicans must get back to the basics of promoting and living a life in the interest of our community – that is, the practise of preventative healthcare. These habits would lead to less pressure on the system,” the Minister contended.

He was speaking at a ceremony last Thursday (May 3) to officially open the newly expanded Portsea Health Centre in St. Elizabeth.

Dr. Tufton said that there is significant demand on the public health system, with hospital and health centre visits reaching 1.2 million and 1.9 million, respectively, in 2017. There were 187,000 hospital admissions last year.

The Minister estimates that 70 per cent of visits to accident and emergency departments were for injuries related to traffic accidents and crime and violence.

“Statistics of road accidents in Jamaica show that human error, breaches of the road code, drinking and driving, faulty tyres, improper overtaking all combine to create a demand on the accident and emergency ward. Trauma cases related to domestic violence also fill the accident and emergency wards daily,” he said.

Dr. Tufton noted that lifestyle conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease were also putting a strain on the health system. He said that seven out of every 10 deaths in Jamaica were linked to preventable lifestyle illnesses.

“Could these have been prevented given our consumption of salt, sugar, fat, alcohol and smoking?” Dr. Tufton asked, highlighting the need for moderation in consumption habits.

Three treatment rooms were added to the Portsea Health Centre at a cost of $5 million.

The facility, which was built in the 1950s, provides child/maternal care, antenatal/postnatal care, nutrition advice, curative services, disease control and much more, five days per week. It serves 4,000 residents with about 300 visits monthly.