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Government’s commitment to promoting healthy public lifestyle is being highlighted by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Grace Allen-Young.
Speaking at the annual conference of the St. Mary Health Department at the Anglican Church Hall, Port Maria, on Thursday (April 16), Dr. Allen-Young said the Ministry will be focussing on a number of areas, including the promotion of physical activities, good nutrition, safe sex and stress management in pursuit of the objective.
Held under the theme, “Wellness – fall in line in 2009”, the conference was attended by health professionals and representatives of several health related organisations from within and outside St. Mary.
Dr. Allen-Young told the audience that the adoption of healthy lifestyles will prevent, or delay, the onset of chronic diseases, and emphasised that wellness speaks not only to the absence of diseases, but also involves the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of an individual.
Noting that the theme of the conference was in keeping with the health promotion strategy employed by the Ministry, she said the abolition of user fees at Government health institutions, was one of the initiatives being pursued to ensure that the best quality health care is available to every citizen.
She said that that the promotion of healthy lifestyles has the potential to reduce the cost of health care delivery for the nation as, currently, the country spends approximately $600 million dollars per year to treat mental illnesses.
She added that it also costs almost $2 billion dollars, annually, to treat cases of trauma and injuries at public health facilities.
She observed that a critical component in the health care programme was workforce health wellness, as the existence of a healthy workforce is critical to the social and economic development of the nation.
Stating that a number of organisations have been reluctant to invest in workforce health wellness, she said the Ministry will be introducing an intervention strategy that will make it compulsory for companies to put such a programme in place.
She stated that this year the Government will spend a total of $17 million on preventative health care, and $37 million on HIV/AIDS Control Programme, as part of its efforts to promote healthy lifestyles among the population.
In congratulating the staff of the St. Mary Health Department, for the exemplary work they were doing in the parish, she said the level of service was an indication of their commitment to improving the quality of life for Jamaicans.