With data indicating that the country’s life expectancy rate is declining, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, is urging Jamaicans to practise healthier lifestyle choices to reduce illness and death.
“People are pursuing lifestyle practices that are negatively affecting their health,” he said during Tuesday’s (June 6) opening ceremony for the $128-million state-of-the-art 128-slice computed tomography (IT) scan suite at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in St. Andrew.
Dr Tufton encouraged persons to improve their lifestyle practices in order to prevent and combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs are also called lifestyle diseases and include diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
“Younger people are getting ill earlier. Younger people are dying ill earlier and we need an expose that tells the country in the simplest possible way, that with all the progress that we are making, we are going to have to get back to basics.
“Physical activity, proper nutrition, rest, getting off the salt, sugar and the fat, the tobacco, the alcohol, all of these things are, perhaps, more important than what you could write on a prescription pad; and when you get to the CT scan level, probably the ‘horse’ [has already] gone through the gate. We need it… but we want to minimise it up to a certain point,” Dr Tufton said.
He challenged the UHWI team to generate ideas that will strengthen Jamaica’s efforts in fighting the issue.
“Let us sit and have a discussion around how we confront that. I celebrate with you, this achievement… . I think it’s good. I think it has to happen; I think it must happen and it shows leadership on the part of the team.
“But I am also very concerned that when we should have passed the baton, we [could] see trends going in the direction that we would have hoped it does not. That’s not a good thing for our legacy, so we have some work to do,” he said.
Data from the Ministry indicate that diabetes, stroke, hypertension and cancers as among the leading causes of death in Jamaica.