Message from the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony on Caribbean Wellness Day 2021
This week, Guyana joins the rest of our sister and brother states in the Caribbean in the celebration of Caribbean Wellness Day 2021 under the theme: ‘Power through Collective Action with the sub theme- “In it together! Building Healthy Communities”.
A commemoration to the issued 2007 Port-of-Spain Declaration, a response to the epidemic of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean, to which the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) signed and declared the second Saturday in September to be “Caribbean Wellness Day” (CWD).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) account for approximately 41 million deaths each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally. Each year, more than 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 69 years, die from a NCD; 85% of these “premature” deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries, and 77% of all NCD deaths are in low-and middle-income countries.
In the Caribbean and Latin America, the burden of NCDs is mainly due to illness and deaths from a wide range of diseases which include Cardiovascular diseases, Cancer and Diabetes and are attributable to risk factors, such as physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol and tobacco, air pollution, stress and overweight/obesity.
Guyana has joined the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America in the call for a comprehensive approach to decrease illnesses and deaths due to NCDs. To this end, the Ministry of Health is developing a National Strategic Plan for NCDs 2021-2030, in consultation with various stakeholders. The final plan will be launched by December 2021. The plan follows the World Health Organisation advice to focus on five diseases (cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and neurological diseases) and five risk factors (tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol, and air pollution). The Ministry of Health has also embarked on developing a National Mental Health Strategy. These two strategies will address the NCDs, the risk factors, and use evidence-based interventions to reduce morbidity and mortality.
However, despite our Government’s commitment to tackle NCDs and improve the lives of people living with Chronic Diseases, the onus is on every Guyanese to make the conscionable change in the way they eat, their level of physical activity and their avoidance of the habits of drinking and smoking. We call on all Guyanese to unite to fight NCDs, educate each other on good lifestyle practices, heeding the advice of your physicians, using your medications correctly and in a timely fashion, and including physical activity and exercise in your daily routine.
Even more so that we are in a prolonged pandemic state, the call is even greater to take more caution and seek help to manage our chronic disease conditions properly. Even if we contract the COVID-19 virus, it will not progress to severe disease.
So, on this occasion of Caribbean Wellness Day, I take this opportunity to urge all Guyanese to continue to be safe and safeguard one’s health by continuing to social distance, practice hand washing, get vaccinated and begin to make those changes towards a healthy lifestyle.