Press release 347/2010
(06 September 2010)

CARICOM OBSERVES THIRD CARIBBEAN WELLNESS DAY
 

 
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Member States and Associate Members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are well advanced in rolling out a slate of activities to observe the Third Annual Caribbean Wellness Day on September 11, under the theme: Love that Body; Make it Last.

The observance of Caribbean Wellness Day is one of the mandates of CARICOM Heads of Government coming out of their landmark Summit on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, in 2007. In addition to 14 other actionable points contained in the Port-of-Spain Declaration to promote healthy lifestyles in the Caribbean, they designated the second Saturday of September as Caribbean Wellness Day.

Chronic NCDs are lifestyle related diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and cancer, which account for 60% of deaths worldwide and are reported to be the leading causes of death, disability and illness in the Caribbean. The chronic diseases result largely from poor food choices and low levels of physical activity. They come at a high cost to individuals and to the Region in terms of human suffering, expensive treatment and loss of production. It is this deep concern for the health of the peoples of the Region and the economic burdens incurred that CARICOM Member States and Associate Members have thrown their full weight of support behind Caribbean Wellness Day.

Several countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Lucia and Suriname are not only using the designated second Saturday of September as a catalyst for sustained physical activity, but are also observing the entire September as a month in which physical activities are sustained. Other countries such as Dominica and Associate Members including Anguilla, Bermuda and British Virgin Islands had initiated activities from as early as June and will continue these to the end of the year.

Yet, other countries including Belize, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, have institutionalised the wellness revolution and have developed an entire year-long programme to assist their citizens in making informed choices for healthy lifestyles. Belize, for example, will be launching its smoke-free spaces programme during an official service at the Matron Roberts Health Centre. Under this programme, Cabinet has given approval for all public spaces to be smoke free in an effort to reduce smoking and tobacco use.

The primary aim of Caribbean Wellness Day is to promote healthy lifestyles through physical activity. Since its inception in 2007, it has showcased national and community level activities which promoted healthy living and encouraged citizens to develop good health practices. Among the activities proposed for the day were the introduction of vehicle-free streets and smoke-free environments to provide opportunities and safe spaces for physical activity and healthy eating, free from exhaust emissions, tobacco smoke and other pollutants.

This year, while emphasis is still on promoting healthy lifestyles through physical activities, focus is also on tobacco free environments, regular exercise, salt consumption reduction, alcohol avoidance and regular blood pressure checks.

To this end, countries across the Caribbean Region are now engaged in activities and events ranging from health fairs, health campaigns, health competitions, to family sports day, walkathons and church services to mark the month of September as they continue to promote a wellness revolution within the Caribbean Community.

CONTACT: piu@caricom.org
 

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