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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, July 29, 2017 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) –The monthly health walks, initiated by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris ten years ago in Constituency Number Seven, is playing a significant role in the promotion of healthy living by residents and citizens, which in turn can lead to the overall reduction of non- communicable diseases (NCDs) in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The prime minister led dozens of participants on another health walk today, Saturday, July 29, from the Basseterre Fire Station to the West Farm lawn, as the monthly health walk initiative continues to expand to include other communities outside of Constituency Number Seven.
Speaking after the walk, Prime Minister Harris said he is particularly pleased that this event is achieving its goal of educating residents on the importance of living healthier lifestyles by incorporating more physical activities into their routines.
Increased physical activity, according to Dr. Harris, is one of the four main factors that can help reduce the incidences of non communicable diseases (NCDs). The three other factors are healthy diets, reduction in the use of tobacco and reduction in the use of alcohol.
Prime Minister Harris further stated that “we demonstrated today again, by this exercise, that this is an activity in which people can engage; an activity which one can engage by him or herself or one can engage with a larger group. At the end of it, we brought the discipline of a healthy diet, which is a second component which we have been advised is important too with respect to healthier living.”
The honourable prime minister, who serves as CARICOM’s lead Head on Human Resources, Health and HIV/AIDS, said that it is his hope that the monthly health walks serve as springboards for persons to incorporate other elements of physical activities into their daily routines that can redound to an improvement in their overall health and well-being.
“While we have been doing this once per month, it is demonstrative of what we are attempting to achieve and we want to encourage people, not only to show solidarity once a month, but in their own ways to increase their own level of physical activity. It could be as simple as walking to work or it could be as simple as taking a walk to the venue by which you would have lunch. Anything that increases physical activity would have, over time, an appreciable beneficial impact upon one’s health and wellness,” Prime Minister Harris added.
Addressing his colleagues during the Thirty-Eighth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Grenada earlier this month, the St. Kitts and Nevis prime minister cited the findings of a 2016 study of the Economic Dimensions of NCDs in Trinidad and Tobago, which stated that an estimated five percent of that country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is being lost by the impact of preventable diabetes, hypertension and cancer.
Of that five percent, Dr. Harris disclosed that “50 percent of the loss in GDP is as a result of direct medical care costs and the other 50 percent relates to a loss in productivity.”
On Saturday, Prime Minister Harris stressed that this in turn places a significant burden on the economies of Caribbean countries.
“Non-communicable diseases are significant in terms of their cost. Cost for cure, cost for treatment, cost in terms of the loss in productivity and studies which have occurred in Trinidad and Tobago and in Jamaica demonstrate that as much as five percent of GDP is being lost to curative measures and treatment related to NCDs.
“This is highly significant because five percent growth has been an elusive outcome for the CARICOM region as a whole. So if you’re losing that, you could imagine how much further we could progress if we are to cut back on the prevalence of NCDs in our Caribbean region.”