KINGSTON – Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, is encouraging men to adopt healthier lifestyle practices to minimize risks associated with non-communicable diseases, such as prostate cancer.
In a message delivered by Acting Director for Health Promotions in the Ministry, Dr. Kevin Harvey, at a seminar on prostate cancer, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston on Thursday March 17, he noted that the Ministry is promoting lifestyles which can significantly reduce the chances of developing lifestyle diseases, such as cancer.
“Tobacco smoking remains the most avoidable cancer risk. We continue to pursue policies and programmes, that will reduce tobacco smoking and protect the health of the population,” he said.
He added that having a healthy diet can also help in reducing the development of lifestyle illnesses.
“More than 90 per cent of Jamaicans eat less than three servings of fruits or vegetables, in a country that has an abundance of these produce. Frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables can reduce our risk of developing these illnesses,” the message said.
He noted that efforts should be made to ensure that children are given the right blend of foods, and reduce salty snacks and sugar filled juices. However, this has to be coupled with an emphasis on physical activity, the importance of which cannot be overstated, he said.
“We can do simple things to ensure that we remain physically active, such as park a little further away from our intended destination, take the stairs instead of the elevator and even do some work around the house. All of these things, combined, can help to reduce the incidence of non communicable illnesses, including prostate cancer,” he said.
He lamented that Jamaica has one of the highest prostate cancer rates in the world, with a large number of men remaining undiagnosed or diagnosed too late for treatment to be effective.
“There is scope for improving access to screening, patient management and public education. The challenges are enormous; the fiscal space gets tighter every day. We must be prepared to tackle old problems with new ideas,” he said.
He urged men to get tested regularly for prostate cancer, as early detection through screening is essential to ensuring successful treatment and care, if a person develops the disease. He also commended the organizers of the seminar.
The seminar, entitled ‘Prostate Cancer in Jamaica, the Contribution of Diet and Lifestyle Factors”, was held in partnership with the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the National Health Fund (NHF).
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Jamaican men, and the leading cause of cancer deaths.
By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS reporter