The Bahamas celebrates Caribbean Wellness Day

The Bahamas joined the rest of the Caribbean on Saturday, September 12 in celebrating Caribbean Wellness Day under the theme: “Love My Body”. Pictured viewing local produce on display a the Ministry of Health on Meeting Street are Camille Johnson, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Brent Symonette and Dr Hubert Minnis, Minister of Health. (BIS Photo/Kris Ingraham)

NASSAU, The Bahamas (BIS) -- The Bahamas joined the rest of the Caribbean on Saturday, September 12 in celebrating Caribbean Wellness Day under the theme: “Love My Body”.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Brent Symonette officially opened a wellness fair at the Ministry of Health, encouraging Bahamians to curb the rate of non-communicable diseases through healthy living.

Caribbean Heads of Government, in response to the “heavy burden” of non-communicable diseases on its citizens issued the Port of Spain Declaration in September 2007, “Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases” and declared the second Saturday in September be celebrated each year as Caribbean Wellness Day.

Such illnesses are heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes said to be the leading causes of premature death amongst Caribbean people.

Health statistics show that obesity remains a challenge in the 31 to 60- year-old age group, where greater than 30 per cent of the population is obese.

“However, measurable achievements are being made as well. One only has to look at the number of people that are out exercising in the mornings and evenings. Walking is becoming more common as a form also by you as individuals. You must also remain committed to reversing these trends within our nation,” Symonette said.

The Bahamas and the region have made progress in the fight against chronic non-communicable diseases. More than one hundred Healthy Dozen Clubs have been formed since the inception of the Healthy Lifestyles Secretariat in 2005, he said.

Health fairs are being offered more frequently by employers and churches and other non-governmental agencies, we actively seek to improve the health status of the population,” Mr. Symonette said.

Moreover, in 2001, the South Beach Health Care Centre opened and holds a weekly nutrition clinic for at-risk obese school children.

He encouraged Bahamians to incorporate some form of healthy living on a daily basis by exercising, parking a distance and walking to their office, cut back on unhealthy foods, drink alcohol in moderation, eat smaller portions and eat more vegetables and fruits.

The Port of Spain Declaration reinforces the gains made by the Caribbean Commission on Health and Development and the Caribbean Cooperation in Health, the Minister said.

“The Bahamas has forged strong partnerships to assist in its fight against chronic non-communicable diseases. The Pan American Health Organisation has continued to partner with us in this battle, providing financial and technical assistance along the way,” he said.

Minister of Health Dr Hubert Minnis also encouraged Bahamians to live healthy lifestyles.

“Many of these diseases share common risk factors combined with uncontrolled blood pressure, raised blood sugar and elevated cholesterol pose a major threat to the wellbeing of our citizens, resulting in loss of life and disability during the most productive years of life. With changes in lifestyle, 40 to 80 per cent of these diseases can be prevented,” he said.

Scores of Bahamians came in support of the event at the Ministry of Health on Meeting Street. They were given first-hand knowledge of healthy living through the various booths erected and sporting drills. The Royal Bahamas Police Force Pop Band led the entertainment segment.

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