Focused on health
An inter-ministerial taskforce is to be re-established to promote healthy living in this country.
That’s the word from Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic. He made the disclosure in an interview with the media following the launch of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition’s Schools’ Outreach on Childhood Obesity Prevention at The St. Michael School yesterday morning. Minister Bostic added that the taskforce will also be expanded to include as wide a cross section of ministries as possible, including Agriculture, Sports, Culture, Elder Affairs and People’s Empowerment and the Ministry of Finance.
“This thing cuts across several ministries and if we are going to have the impact that we want to have, we are going to have to bring everyone to the table and we also want to harmonise the efforts of all of those NGOs – the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Diabetes Association, the Cancer Society and so on, because they have been at the forefront in their own respective areas. And what we are trying to do now, is to bring everything under one national umbrella so that we are all on the same sheet of music and fighting the same cause together,” he stated.
Minister Bostic added, “We have to reach the point where the things we want the children and the nation on a whole to be able to consume, that they become a little but more affordable. That is why we have to have a conversation with the Ministry of Agriculture and with the farmers, because if we can get them to produce the things that we want and to reduce the prices, because they would have a larger base if people are using vegetables and fruits on a regular basis, then there is a win-win situation.”
The health minister’s comments came as he said there will be a serious national campaign to help change mindsets. Minister Bostic made the point while noting that greater emphasis is being placed in his ministry on preventative health care, as opposed to the curative health care. It is for that reason, he said, that the Ministry established the National Taskforce on Wellness. He said it is comprised of people, organsiations and groups that are fighting NCDs and obesity.
Meanwhile, referring to efforts being made to promote healthy eating in schools, he stated that in addition to ensuring school canteens serve healthy options, they see the importance of engaging the vendors who set up in the vicinity of schools as well.
“We have to have a discussion with the vendors, but before we can deal with the vendors we have to deal with the children, the schools and more importantly, with parents, with families. If they are not involved in the conversation, then what the schools are doing would only be for the time that the children are in school,” he said. (JRT)