Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, has called on public health nurses to support government’s effort to combat the problem of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), by becoming advocates for healthy lifestyle choices.
“The nurse represents the most common variable in the provision of health services and their partnership is critical to solving the challenges in the health sector,” the Minister said, as he addressed the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) 48th Island Conference, held at Royalton White Sands in Trelawny, on October 12.
“You are particularly important, because the leadership that you provide has the potential to be the first line of defence and that’s why I say to you, you are not only clinically competent to make a difference, you have to become the chief advocate to make that difference,” he told the nurses in attendance.
Dr. Tufton said it remains a major concern that a high number of Jamaicans continue to pursue lifestyles that will negatively impact their health and wellness.
In this regard, the Minister argued that advocacy is needed to encourage behaviour change, as this is pivotal to reducing obesity levels and the number of persons developing NCDs.
“We still have a population that pursues a lifestyle that doesn’t auger well for their health and wellness. Data from the [2016/17] Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey show that one in three Jamaicans is hypertensive, one in two is obese and one in eight is diabetic. It tells us therefore that we need leadership to stem the problem,” he said.
Dr. Tufton said the Ministry will continue to push its National Strategic and Action Plan for the prevention and control of NCDs, that seeks to promote healthy lifestyle habits among Jamaicans.
“That’s what our anti-NCD fight is all about. That’s why you see me running up and down with Jamaica Moves, that’s why you see us going into the schools, that’s why we are looking at a nutrition policy to influence what our children are exposed to… because before we get to the curative stages of health care provision, we need to try and minimize those who actually want that curative service, and the preventative method is key and you are fundamental to that,” he told the nurses.