In an attempt to arrest the rise of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDS) among the population, Guyanese are urged to make healthy lifestyle choices such as limiting the use of alcohol and tobacco.
Prime Minister Brigadier Retired Mark Phillips and the Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony made this plea on Friday.
Prime Minister Phillips and Health Minister Dr Anthony launched the Health Symposium and Caribbean Wellness Week on Friday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC). Guyana is commemorating Caribbean Wellness Week under the theme “Healthy Individuals, Communities and Organisations.”
Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony said, “We wanna see this as the start of an annual symposium and fair. Hopefully, as we start rolling this out we’ll be rotating this not only in region 4 but also in other regions.
Prime Minister Phillips who is performing the duties of the President spoke at the launch, where he emphasised the need to make healthy lifestyle choices. He said Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause for deaths in the Caribbean region and Guyana.
“The most common risk factors contributing to NCDS statistics are tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diet,” the Prime Minister said.
PM Phillips added, “This evidence along with the world’s recent experience with the effect on our health brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of promoting good health and wellbeing. It is also important to note that an unhealthy population would have negative impacts on the economic productivity and health care expenditure of our country.”
The Prime Minister stated that the Government has embarked on several health initiatives to promote wellbeing, but it must be the people who chose to live this way.
“We must encourage our people to embrace the healthy lifestyles by adopting healthy eating patterns, avoid toxic habits like smoking, and excessive alcohol use, avoiding stress, participating in physical exercise, getting at least eight hours of rest and getting annual screening.”
The Prime Minister also noted that organisations, civil society groups and other institutions should implement strategies to create an environment for each individual to embrace healthy lifestyle choices.
Meanwhile, the Health Minister explained that preventative measures must be practised early, so that chronic illnesses can be eliminated and prevented.
Some of these include annual checkups, a healthy diet, no sugar, and no salt, reducing stress and involving in physical exercise for at least 40 minutes a day.
“We need to look at what we’re drinking, how much we’re drinking and we know that it is very harmful to us, because it would damage your liver, damage your heart and there are so much other things it could damage.”
“If we start looking at ourselves, trying to implicate these useful values and making sure that we reduce the harm that we’re doing to ourselves […] we’ll start seeing that change in our body, we would feel different,” the Health Minister stated.
In today’s activities, the Ministry of Health also unveiled the Wellness Charter which was signed by local and regional stakeholders.
This charter represents a commitment to achieving a target of higher life expectancy, and to improve the quality of life of persons. It aligns with Guyana’s commitment to the 2007 Port of Spain declaration.
This declaration represents the uniting of Caribbean leaders to stop the epidemic of chronic NCDs after recognising their impact and consequences, and reflecting commitments to action in key areas.
It is also in line with Guyana’s commitment to the sustainable development goal 3.4 that targets the reduction of premature deaths as a result of Non Communicable Diseases by one third
In 2019 the life expectancy was 62 years for men and 68 years for women, with almost 70% of deaths due to NCDs.