JIS News

Story Highlights

  • NHF is advocating the promotion of healthy habits
  • 157 out of 264 blood sugar tests conducted on children in 2010 returned abnormal readings
  • Jamaica will observe Caribbean Wellness Day 2013 on the Saturday, September 14

The National Health Fund (NHF) is advocating the promotion of healthy habits as a solution for reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among the nation’s children.

The NHF’s Public Information Manager, Rosemarie Lee, argues that in addition to safeguarding the youngsters’ wellbeing, this approach can also serve to lessen the burden that NCDs, which she describes as “preventable”, place on the resources of the health sector and families, to administer medication and other treatments for chronic illnesses.

Speaking at Friday’s (September 6) launch of Caribbean Wellness Day 2013, at the Rooms on the Beach Resort, in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Mrs. Lee said data compiled by the NHF showed that of 264 blood sugar tests conducted on children in 2010, approximately 157 returned abnormal readings.

This, she pointed out, reinforces the need to heighten awareness about the importance of good health among children, adding that “various strategies” are being pursued and undertaken to deal with the incidence of chronic illnesses.

One such, Mrs. Lee informed, is the high school screening programme for students, which facilitates increased awareness through activities such as discussions.

She also highlighted the interactive school-based hula hoopers competition for youngsters, aged three to 12 years. This activity entails children, their teachers, and parents participating in physical activities together, while having fun in the process.  The Public Information Manager also stresses the importance of structuring healthy diets for the youngsters.

“If we try to get our children to eat right and live healthy lifestyles from the early stages, it is very unlikely that they will depart from this when they become adults. We believe the focus we adopted for promoting healthy habits in our children is a good one. This strategy to reduce non-communicable diseases will work if we adopt the true meaning of growing our children the way we want them to be,” Mrs. Lee reasoned.

Regarding the overall prevalence of NCDs, the Public Information Manager reported that up to August 31 this year, the NHF Individual Benefits Programme showed hypertension as the most prevalent illness recorded among its beneficiaries, with 239,000 reported cases. Arthritis was next with 143,000 cases; high cholesterol – 127,000; and diabetes – 121,000.

In light of this, she said the NHF is committed to enrolling more persons in the programme, thereby ensuring that they, among other things, benefit from the subsidy on pharmaceuticals, which currently covers 53% of retail prices. Complementing this, she added, are programmes aimed at increasing physical activity, particularly at the workplace.

“Our Workplace Work-It Out Challenge has become an annual fun-filled physical activity event for many organizations, and we continue to encourage employers to assist their employees to become and stay physically active. Healthy people mean less manpower loss due to illness and disability. The NHF pledges its continued support and we will play our part in any approach being employed to reduce non-communicable diseases,” Mrs. Lee said.

Jamaica will observe Caribbean Wellness Day 2013 on the Saturday, September 14, with a slate of activities at the Ocean Village Shopping Centre, Ocho Rios, St. Ann, under the theme: ‘Love your body, treat your body right’.