Guyana hosts successful Caribbean Wellness Day
Guyanese were afforded access to diabetes, blood pressure and Body Mass Index (BMI) testing at the Stabroek Car Park yesterday, as the country joined other Caribbean territories in celebrating Caribbean Wellness Day.
Entertaining the large crowd, was the winner of the HIV/AIDS calypso competition, Young Bill Rogers, who encouraged Guyanese to “Put it On,” the theme song for World AIDS Day.
Visiting the site was Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, who noted that more than 70 per cent of deaths in the Caribbean can be accounted for by lifestyle diseases. In this regard, he noted that the Heads of State have agreed that it’s a crisis and the situation must be dealt with some amount of urgency.
“Caribbean Wellness Day is a day that we remind the population of these lifestyle diseases, but more importantly to concretize the partnerships between the people and the institutions. On one hand, people must take personal responsibility, so that they know their BMI,” the Health Minister said.
He added that Caribbean Wellness Day is not just about promoting awareness but establishing mechanisms in order to enable people to access better health services.
Meanwhile, Behaviour Change Communication Coordinator for the Health Ministry, Jennifer Ganesh told Kaieteur News that the ‘Put it on’ campaign has been successful, as ten shows have already been held across the country.
The Health Ministry took the show to the City Mall, Leonora, Vreed-en-Hoop, Parika, Linden, New Amsterdam, Port Mourant, and Skeldon, where condom use was extensively promoted.
“The campaign is going well so far, because the feedback from the public has been tremendous. People are calling us, requesting more road shows to be done. The momentum is picking up because our main goal is to normalize the use of condoms and to demystify myths associated with condom use.”
According to Ganesh, the awareness of condom use is very high among in and out of school youths, as 90 percent of them know of it, but only 50 per cent actually use a condom when having sex.
This is something that the Health Ministry is hoping to change with the campaign.
The observance of Caribbean Wellness Day was one of the decisions taken when the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government met in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 15 September 2007 to design a plan of action to stop the epidemic of chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
The first Wellness Day was observed last year on September 13 and showcased national and community level activities which promoted healthy living and encouraged residents to develop good health practices. Among the activities proposed for the day were the introduction of vehicle-free streets and smoke-free environments to provide opportunities and safe spaces for physical activity and healthy eating, free from exhaust emissions tobacco smoke and other pollutants.
This year, Caribbean Civil society and particularly members of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition were invited to take the lead in planning and executing activities within their country. The slogan for Caribbean Wellness Day was, as it was last year, “Love That Body”.