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PRESS RELEASE: Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, September 6, 2018.   “The reality for most persons is that one-third of our adult life is spent at work.  This can have a huge impact on the quality of our life.  As such, the conditions of work and the work environment can either have a positive or negative impact on our health and well-being,” remarked Dr C. James Hospedales, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in observance of Caribbean Wellness Day 2018.

The United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) state that every individual has a right to healthy and safe work and to a work environment that enables him or her to live a socially and economically productive life.

In keeping with this basic human right to health at work, Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD) 2018, which will be celebrated across the Caribbean region on Saturday 8th September, bears the theme, Healthy Communities: Preserving the Workforce.  CARPHA is therefore urging persons to Be healthy, stay healthy…. it’s your job!

The need for work place health promotion in disease prevention and wellness is critical, as the Caribbean remains the region of the Americas worst affected by the epidemic of chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases.  In Latin America and the Caribbean, NCDs are the leading cause of premature death, accounting for nearly half of all deaths of persons under 70 years, and for two out of three deaths overall.

Dr Hospedales said “this is a serious concern for our Region because treating preventable NCDs is very costly and it imposes a large economic burden on patients, their families, businesses, governments, social security and society at large.  A closer look at diabetes tells us that it is a major cause of admissions to hospitals, kidney failure, blindness and limb amputations in the Region.”  He stated that treatment of hypertension and diabetes in selected Caribbean countries is estimated to cost 1.4% to 8.0 % of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), noting that “the costs are simply not sustainable for our small, fragile islands and low-lying states.”

Although the CARPHA Executive Director acknowledges that workers have a responsibility for their own health, he believes that employers also have a role to play.  He is therefore encouraging employers to prioritise the development of healthy workplace policies, provision of supportive work environments and enhancing  personal health skills of their employees.

Caribbean Wellness Day is an annual event launched in 2008, geared at raising the profile of NCDs, which continue to severely and adversely impact the health and economic development of the Caribbean. CARPHA continues to collaborate with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and other regional and international organisations, to help shape regional and country-level policy and programmes that address NCDs for the health and well-being of this and future generations.

Please take some time to review the helpful tips for promoting work place wellness in your organization in the CARPHA CWD toolkit at http://carpha.org/Media-Centre/Caribbean-Wellness-Day-2018.