Health checks for CARICOM staff members during Caribbean Wellness Week

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The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat’s corridors, Conference Room and Staff Lounge were transformed into one-stop mini-health clinics for a week in observance of Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD) 2017. From September 11 – 15 members of staff of the Secretariat staff benefited from medical services and wellness activities at its Georgetown, Guyana, headquarters.

Love That Body: Securing a Future Generation through Eating Healthy and Not Smoking was the theme of this year’s observance.

Health care officials from Guyana’s Ministry of Health, St Joseph Mercy Hospital, Da Silva’s Optical and the Guyana School of Dentistry conducted health checks including; Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation, immunisations, blood pressure, glucose and HIV testing, as well as dental and vision screening.

Fun, interactive games were played to increase awareness of the importance of exercise. Seminars were also held on breast, cervical and prostate cancers; nutrition and exercise. Quite significantly, an Outpatient Clinic, outfitted with two doctors, was set up for staff to discuss health issues. Medication was available from a mini Pharmacy. The Georgetown Chest Clinic visited on Wednesday to brief staff on the latency of Tuberculosis and the importance of getting tested. The week’s activities wrapped up with a Zumba dance exercise activity on Thursday and a games afternoon featuring cricket, football table tennis and scrabble on Friday, September 15.[su_box title=”Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)” style=”soft” box_color=”#54c0f0″]Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are not passed from person to person and are of long duration and generally of slow progression. The five main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart attacks and stroke), certain cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (e.g. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma), type 2 diabetes, and mental disorders. (Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases)[/su_box]

Caribbean Wellness Day emanated from the first CARICOM Summit on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in September 2007. CARICOM Heads of Government issued the ground-breaking Port-of-Spain (POS) Declaration to unite the Region to stem the epidemic of NCDs. The Declaration, with 15 mandates and 27 commitments, provided global leadership on NCDs, paving the way for the United Nations Political Declaration on the Prevention of NCDs in September 2011.

Dr Rudolph Cummings, Programme Manager responsible for Health within the Directorate of Human and Social Development, in an invited comment on the 10th Anniversary of the POS Declaration, said that the fight continues.

“Furthest along is tobacco where now we have five countries which have legislation. Two countries – Barbados and Dominica – have begun to implement measures to deter or to reduce the use of sugar sweetened beverages,” he stated.

According to a report on the evaluation of the 2007 POS Declaration, conducted by the CARICOM Secretariat with support from the Pan American and World Health Organisations (PAHO/WHO), NCDs were still the major cause of premature adult deaths in the Region. Thus, they posed serious threats to health and development in the Caribbean.

Dr Cummings said the analysis showed the Region lagging behind in the implementation of the goals it set in 2007. However, he noted that the CARICOM Secretariat was working assiduously with Member States to address those implementation delays.

Despite the challenges faced with NCDs, Caribbean Wellness Day and the rallying theme Love that Body continue to be a passionate celebration of good nutrition and exercise across the Region. It is an expression of hope as Caribbean people unite to increase awareness of the burden of NCDs and encourage each other to develop and sustain good health practices.

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