Ministry Places Focus on Health Needs of Young Jamaicans


Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester, has said that the Ministry is placing increased focus on pre-adolescent and adolescent health, to ensure that the country’s youth are healthy and are able to achieve their full potential.
“Life is a continuum and our childhood experiences impact on adolescence and carry through into adulthood,” she stated as she addressed the second stakeholders consultation on the National Strategic Plan for Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents held on June 9 at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
The strategic plan seeks to provide a detailed framework on how the health needs of the pre-adolescent age group eight to nine, and young people age 10 to 19, will be addressed.
Dr. Campbell-Forrester informed that the plan, which will cover the period 2009 to 2014, will focus on violence prevention, sexuality, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, drug awareness, cigarette smoking and chronic disease prevention, “all the areas that affect the health and well-being of our adolescents and pre-adolescents.”
She lamented that chronic diseases are impacting a wide cross section of persons “and our young people are not immune.”
“It is estimated that about 10 per cent of adolescents are obese and that carries a risk for chronic diseases. In addition anaemia, HIV/AIDS, mental health disorders and diabetes are examples of the conditions that have been affecting this group more and more,” she stated.
Dr. Campbell-Forrester noted that many of these conditions are behaviour-related while some pertain to the “social determinants of health”, which relate to the economic and social conditions under which people live, and can be prevented and controlled through strategic approaches.
“We wish to develop strategies for addressing these identified needs, building partnerships with adolescent groups, agencies, community-based organisations, faith-based organisations working with our young people and encouraging dialogue. If we leave them out, we will be in problems,” she stated.
The first National Strategic Plan for Pre-Adolescents and Adolescents consultation was held in the northeast region and involved stakeholders from St. Ann, St. Mary and Portland. Two more consultations are scheduled to be held at later dates.
The objectives of the consultation are: to review the document and elicit the views of the participants to add value to the strategic plan.

JIS Social