A programme of health and wellness has been initiated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and highly commended to employees.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, in addressing the official opening of the Workplace Wellness Programme Workshop at Culloden Road, St. Michael, noted its timeliness.

She said: ???Barbados is burdened by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which account for some 84 per cent of the deaths on the island. The prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in our small population is a stark reality. The Ministry of Health and non-governmental organisations are making a concerted effort to sensitise the public to the scale of the problem.???

While stating that the Ministry played its role in focusing international attention on the impact of NCDs like obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases on countries like Barbados, she added: ???We work tirelessly to foster partnerships at the regional and international levels to prevent and control these conditions. Our effort is aimed at reaching workable solutions to protect the health of our people; to foster national development; and to achieve sustainable economic growth in the country.???

Senator McClean pointed out that global good health started in one???s country, and expressed pleasure at the initiative of her staff, who were collaborating to demonstrate commitment to reducing the impact of NCDs through promoting workplace wellness.

Reminding those gathered that Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, had addressed this issue of NCDs in this year???s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in the House of Assembly, she said: ???The focus on sweetened beverages was based on a government policy to encourage healthier consumption patterns throughout the society.???

She stressed that Government recognised that its intervention alone could not stem the tide of NCDs, and the human and financial costs were taking a toll on families in Barbados, the public purse and the private sector.

???We need joint approaches to manage the shared burden. Fortunately, employers and insurance providers are wise enough to recognise the truth; however, the only sustainable solution is prevention. Our workplace wellness programme will contribute to the effort. It also promises to arrest and/or reverse the negative effects where prevention has not been possible.???

The pilot programme is being conducted in conjunction with the National Union of Public Workers??? (NUPW) Insurance Agent Inc. According to Foreign Service Officer and Coordinator of the programme, Dr. Ricardo Kellman, 40 employees had participated in the baseline testing, some of whom were already members of the NUPW Insurance Agent Inc., and it was hoped more persons would come on board to take the benefits of improving health, productivity and the enjoyment of life.

Meanwhile, Chairman of NUPW Insurance Agent Inc., Cedric Murrell, commending the Ministry said: ???We are happy for this programme because it is our intention to replicate this in other government departments. We have been offering medical insurance at the NUPW for a long time but the whole question of health and wellness looms large???the fact that Government has taken that very bold step with regard to the sugar and tax on soft drinks, we will be taking this programme to other government agencies.???

He disclosed that the two-and-a-half year old NUPW Insurance Agent Inc., an agent of the Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited had, on March 17, mounted a promotion of its products and services within the Ministry.

Mr. Murrell added that in the coming weeks, starting October 16, the organisation would be launching a series of seminars focusing on self-management of chronic non-communicable diseases. ???This series, under the theme: Manage Me, Manage NCD, will be conducted in conjunction with the Diabetes Association of Barbados and the ICBL,??? he revealed.


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