The Ministry of Health and Wellness is spearheading a reinvigorated campaign to combat the challenges associated with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Barbados.
This will include a reconstituted National Task Force on Wellness, a refocus on community nursing and wellness grants to persons diagnosed with NCDs to help them improve their dietary intake.
News of this came today from Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, as he spoke to the media on the sidelines of a Health Day event at the Westbury Primary School.
He said he was delighted to accept the invitation to address the children because the message of healthy living had to start with them.
“Reversing the situation that we are facing in Barbados is not going to happen overnight, but we have to start with the young ones … They have a tremendous impact on their parents and they will be able to say to their parents “Mummy, you’re using too much sugar, or you’re putting too much salt into this or that, and hopefully then it will have a domino effect throughout the country.”
The reconstituted National Task Force on Wellness will be chaired by Lt. Col. Carlos Lovell of the Barbados Defence Force, who is also the architect of the wellness programme within the Barbados Regiment.
The Task Force will also include the Chief Scout Commissioner, the Girl Guides Commissioner, the Cadet Commandant, the head of the Seventh Day Adventist Pathfinders, churches and sporting associations.
The aim, Minister Bostic said, was “to have some legs to take this message out. And we believe strongly that starting with the very young ones, the Blossoms, the guides, the scouts, the pathfinders, the cadets, all uniformed organizations to participate in wellness activities that will earn them their badges, and also to go out as wellness ambassadors into the schools; this will help us to be able to get the message out.”
Meanwhile, he announced that Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley had given permission for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to employ and train about 50 persons, including nurses, from among the group who have not yet passed the regional nursing examination, to boost the community nursing programme.
“They will go into the polyclinics with the sole purpose of working in communities because this is part of the problem. Because of the nursing shortage, we’re not doing as much community nursing as we used to.
“We need to get people out into the communities to make sure that those persons who are suffering with NCDs are managing the process, and that they are taking the medication. These nurses will also be educating the communities about NCDs,” he said.
The other initiative being contemplated, he said, was financial assistance in the form of a grant to persons suffering with NCDs, who would be recommended by physicians. He explained that once the initial grant was given, patients would then have to maintain or improve their health levels in order to qualify for further grants.
The Health and Wellness Minister said that the Ministry was currently in the process of conducting a costing study for health services, which would give a clear indication of how much money health care was costing taxpayers.
In respect of the grants, he said that Government strongly believed that the grants, once properly utilized, would reduce the expenditure on the public purse, as the quality of life of citizens improved.