Towards a healthier, happier Jamaica


Towards a healthier, happier Jamaica

Monday, June 17, 2019

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Long before Dr Christopher Tufton, Jamaican health ministers have found reason to fret and complain over the high cost of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

That cost often comes in the form of premature death, incapacity and illness. It's been long established that seven out of 10 deaths result from NCDs.

Then there is the loss of production time; and just as crucially the heavy cost to taxpayers who are called on to bear the public health bill.

We note word from Dr Tufton in 2017 that it would cost Jamaica approximately $77 billion over 15 years to treat people suffering from cardiovascular-related diseases and diabetes.

Credit is due to the health minister for his activist promotion of Jamaica Moves, which has become style and fashion across the country helping ordinary people to not just recognise the value of physical activity but to also live it.

And now we find reason to applaud him some more for calling out the business/corporate community on wellness. The health minister says employers should proactively invest in their employees by facilitating recreation and physical activity.

Speaking at an awards ceremony for an admirable physical fitness competition funded by the National Health Fund, Dr Tufton challenged business operators to see their workers as their “most valuable asset, and the state of mind of those employees as the intellectual force that will drive... (business) competitiveness and success” and therefore deserving of investment.

The health and wellness minister complained that there are far too many Jamaican companies “who all they care about is that you show up for work, work as hard as you can, and after you leave work, it doesn't matter to them… what happens to you as long as you show up the next day”.

That's the gospel truth, we think.

Dr Tufton is reported as suggesting that employers consider strategies such as bringing in a doctor periodically to check the health of workers and hiring an instructor to conduct regular work-out sessions at the workplace.

Also, it seems to us, business operators both large and small would do themselves no harm at all and accumulate considerable goodwill should they extend a helping hand to their communities in terms of facilitating recreation and healthy lifestyles.

Let's consider for a moment the many community centres and playing fields across the country which are rundown and in extreme disrepair. Many of those important though they are have suffered from decades of public sector expenditure cuts as successive governments struggled to correct Jamaica's dysfunctional 'bang belly' economy.

Surely businesses could imaginatively come together to adopt such facilities, repair and upgrade them, and with the help of organisations such as Social Development Commission encourage people to play, exercise, and live longer and healthier.

Would that cost too much? We don't think so. And the benefits in so many different ways not just in terms of attracting goodwill for benefactors but also nurturing youth and providing fertile ground for gentler, happier people and communities would be infinite.

We think that where there is a will there is always a way.

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