JIS News

Prime Minister P J. Patterson has instructed that a team be formed to implement a programme under the education transformation agenda, to utilize special funding from the National Housing Trust (NHT) to provide at least one nutritious meal each day for children in early childhood institutions.
Minister of Information, Senator Burchell Whiteman, who made the announcement at yesterday’s (Oct. 3) weekly post Cabinet press briefing, informed that the team would include representatives from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ); Ministry of Education Youth and Culture; Ministry of Health; the Poverty Alleviation Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
“They will spearhead a programme to take effect as soon as possible so that the funding provided by the NHT for the education transformation agenda will be most effectively spent in terms of providing nutritious meals for the children in the early childhood institutions,” Senator Whiteman said.The Information Minister explained that the move was borne out of a report on child nutrition in Jamaica, which was presented by the PIOJ to the Council of Minister’s meeting held on Monday (Oct. 3).
The report, which was done by the Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, revealed that children were at risk of certain lifestyle diseases, including obesity, which could lead to hypertension and heart problems.
Senator Whiteman said based on this, the Prime Minister directed that a special study be done on the nutritional needs of Jamaicans. Out of the study, it was realized that a lot of children were overweight, while some were under the appropriate weight for their age.
“There is concern about the nutritional status of our youngest children that is to say those between birth and age 5 and in comparison with the average for the rest of the world, we are recognizing some deficits in condition affecting our children’s health,” the Minister said.
He pointed out that improper nutrition would have implications for the children’s educational and general development, as they got older. “It was thought very important to focus on this particular segment of the population and to see what policy option should be put forward to improve the situation over where it now stands,” he said.
The team, which worked on the report Minister Whiteman said, identified four broad strategies to address the situation. These are: an enhanced feeding programme; intensified nutritional services primarily to deal with children who are not in school; influencing food availability and a surveillance system to provide proper responses to nutritional problems as they are identified and detected.

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