- Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson has called on Jamaicans to join the fight against lifestyle-related diseases.
- Ministry data indicate that the number one health problem in Jamaica is obesity.
- Minister Ferguson stated that in Westmoreland NCDs (diabetes, high blood pressure), were the leading health conditions treated at the parish’s primary health care facilities.
Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson has called on Jamaicans to join the fight against lifestyle-related diseases, by adopting a preventative approach to their health.
The Health Minister was addressing the opening ceremony for the Bethel Town and Neighbouring Communities Association Incorporated (BTANCA – Inc) Health Fair on Wednesday, April 16 on the grounds of the Bethel Town Health Centre in Westmoreland.
Dr. Ferguson said Ministry data indicate that the number one health problem in Jamaica is obesity. He said this condition has far-reaching effects as it leads to the development of other Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
He said this information is supported by the World Bank Report titled ‘Non-Communicable Diseases in Jamaica: Moving from Prescription to Prevention’ which indicates that almost half of women in the 35 to 54 age group are obese.
“Adding overweight women to this group means that more than 80 per cent are overweight. Even among the younger 15 to 24 age group almost 40 per cent of women were either overweight or obese compared to 22 per cent of men,” Dr. Ferguson pointed out.
Furthermore, he noted, in 2007 a World Bank-commissioned study showed that the direct and indirect treatment of the two leading NCDs – diabetes, high blood pressure – was costing Jamaica US$461 million per annum.
Another study done by Durazo-Arizu in 2008, analysing obesity prevalence in the United States, Nigeria and Jamaica, showed that the weight gain per year in Jamaica was four times higher than that of Americans and Nigerians, the Minister stated.
Noting that community intervention is at the heart of the Government‘s efforts to reduce the prevalence of NCDs, Dr. Ferguson said the development of the primary health care system shows its commitment to empowering people to take charge of their health, and join the fight against obesity.
“The fact is that primary health care is the most cost effective way in which we can better secure the health of our population. It is also the most practical means of ensuring that person safeguard their health without having to resort to secondary health care services (hospital care) in most cases,” Dr. Ferguson stated.
Giving a breakdown of data from the ‘Health and Lifestyle Survey’ conducted in 2008, Minister Ferguson stated that in Westmoreland NCDs (diabetes, high blood pressure), were the leading health conditions treated at the parish’s primary health care facilities.
These were ranked 47.4 per cent, which is the highest in relation to the top 15 conditions that were seen in these facilities in 2010.
The Health Minister informed that the Government’s five-year NCD Strategic Plan, which is the first comprehensive strategic plan for NCDs in Jamaica, has already been approved by Cabinet, and will address the four major causes of death and morbidity in Jamaica.
These include: cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and the four major risk factors of physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, harmful use of alcohol, and tobacco use.
Minister Ferguson said that a vital component in the plan was the need for public/private sector partnerships, as successfully tackling NCDs requires a response from all sectors.
He welcomed the 10-month old BTANCA’s community intervention activities, which he said resonate with the approach and focus areas of the Ministry of Health.
Meanwhile, President of the United States chapter of the BTANCA, Daniel Bernard, told the JIS that that group was founded to help develop and preserve Bethel Town and adjoining communities, starting with the promotion of healthy lifestyles and community cohesiveness.
The health fair held under the theme ‘Tackling Diabetes – Prevention, Treatment, Management,’ was one of several events planned for BTANCA Week 2014.
Others include a marathon on Thursday, April 17; a dinner on April 18; and a football tournament on Saturday, April 19. The activities will culminate with a worship service at Bethel Town Baptist Church on Easter Sunday, April 20.
BTANCA comprises residents of Bethel Town and their counterparts overseas.