Saint Lucia observes tenth anniversary of Caribbean Wellness Day

GIS:-CWD Promotes Healthy Practices, the Consumption of Healthy Foods and Smoke Free Public Spaces.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness joins CARICOM regional counterparts in marking the significant ten-year milestone since the inauguration of Caribbean Wellness Day. In September 2007, the regional Heads of Government of CARICOM met in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and united efforts to reverse the trajectory of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) by establishing a regional strategy to guide this change process. The heads of states recognized that the NCD epidemic was not only proving to be an economic and developmental threat to the CARICOM states but also to individuals within these states. The experience of the NCD epidemic confirmed its capacity to erode the quality of life of the region’s population, as evidenced by increased disease related disabilities and pre-mature death of many residents within the region. The heads of government, recognizing this loss of human capital, issued a declaration mandated all sectors of member states to commit to immediate, decisive and collective action with the national health sectors leading the charge.

A key result of the September 2007 Port of Spain meeting, Caribbean Wellness Day was instituted as an annual observation to be held on the second Saturday of September. This day has been set aside to promote healthy practices which include regular physical activity, consumption of healthy foods and smoke free public spaces. In adherence to Port-of Spain NCD Declaration, Saint Lucia has observed Caribbean Wellness Day from September 2008 to present. As the years progressed, evident strides had been made in strengthening the all-of-society response to promoting healthy living activities and programs that support wellness to both prevent and control NCDs. The achievements to date include: collaboration of with ally ministries and non-governmental agencies to ensure the inclusion of health in all policies; the establishment of physical fitness program at the Community Wellness Centers; health education and communication campaigns; the introduction of a chronic disease self-management program for persons living with NCDs and their caregivers to reduce complications of their illness; the placement of health warnings and graphic images on cigarette packages; and regular work place and community health promotion programs.

This year’s observation of Caribbean Wellness Day targets young persons within the age range 16 to 29 years; critical years to reinforce health behaviors to attain a good state of health as years progress and individuals age. Reversing of poor health habits within this age group has the potential to reverse the NCD regional epidemic. With this vision, Saint Lucia’s shall focus efforts to engage the youth in health oriented activities during the month of September. This will be launched with a Health Explosion on the William Peter Boulevard on Friday September 8 from 10 am to 6 pm. The formal opening of the activity will be followed by a day filled with activities to interest a wide cross section of youth and the young in being part of fun physical activities, healthy food tastings and take the opportunity for free health screenings. Among the day’s activities will be healthy food demonstrations, a small goal football, aerobic exercises, boxing demonstrations, obstacle course activities and health treasure hunts.

All are invited to come prepared to join this celebration of health