Health and Wellness Minister, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, has challenged every Barbadian to join a national effort to promote wellness in all aspects of life.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness is taking the lead in this national wellness initiative by launching a number of community physical activity programmes at playing fields across Barbados next Saturday, with the assistance of the Barbados Defence Force.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for Caribbean Wellness Day in Bridgetown last Saturday, Mr. Bostic said that the Ministry would also be joining with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to promote the initiative, and he would be meeting with the heads of these organisations over the next two weeks to discuss the partnership.
One area in which he hopes to collaborate with the NGOs is in using the polyclinics as wellness centres, where people visiting can participate in wellness activities coordinated by the NGOs.
The Minister said a new commitment to health and wellness was necessary, as the high incidence of non-communicable diseases continued to threaten Barbados’ socio-economic development. He also pointed to the large percentage of obese Barbadian children, describing the statistic as “a clear and present danger”.
To address the challenge, Mr. Bostic stated, would involve discussions with many sectors.
“We must have a conversation with the Ministry of Education because we have to look at what we are feeding our children in schools. We must have a conversation with the vendors about the snacks they offer for sale. We must have a conversation with parents because if we do not make a difference in households, we are wasting our time. We must have a conversation with the Ministry of Finance because as we seek to impose taxes on sweet drinks, we must also have a basket of affordable healthy foods that we want our people to consume.”
The Minister said that the direction that the Ministry was focused on would not be easy, but had to be taken in the interest of the nation’s children and its people as a whole. “We must not give up because if we do, we will face severe consequences in the years to come.”
He promised his audience that he would lead by example, starting during the event, by participating in the road tennis tournament and pledging “I intend to get fit again. I intend to change my diet somewhat and I’m hoping that all of you will join me in this effort”.
During the event, Minister Bostic introduced the members of the newly-formed National Task Force on Wellness, headed by chairman, Dr. Janelle Bryan and the deputy, Dr. Rene Best.