The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) participated in a Fitness walk activity held by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat in collaboration with the Minister’s Secretariat, Ministry of Health and other stakeholders. This activity was conducted in commemoration of Caribbean Wellness Day which was celebrated on 8 September 2012.
The walk commenced from the CARICOM Secretariat and ended in the National Park where brief remarks were made by the Honourable Bheri Ramsarran, Minister of Health representatives from CARICOM, PAHO/WHO and the US Embassy. The theme of the day’s activity was "Love that body: building the foundation for healthy lifestyles".
Eng Adrianus Vlugman, Senior Advisor, Environmental Health and Sustainability, PAHO/WHO, made brief remarks on the topic ‘healthy choices’. In his remarks, reference was made to the fact that more than 36 million deaths worldwide are caused by NCDs and 80 percent of the population in low and middle-income countries being affected. He further highlighted that the major causes of these diseases are smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet and substance abuse, which are considered key risk factors.
Eng Vlugman highlighted that young people’s lifestyle choices are made early in life and in their early to mid-teens, while still at school. He stressed to the youths that health is not difficult it is very easy, once you adopt healthy lifestyle, including:
- Be physically active: walk, climb the stairs at school or office, exercise, dance, have fun and keep moving!
- Eat healthy: Eat grains, vegetables and fruits, take that salt shaker from the table to reduce salt intake, promote breast feeding.
- Limit alcohol use! Too much alcohol is devastating to your health and ability to study and work. Alcohol causes many traffic accidents and shortens once life significantly!
- Don’t Smoke: Smoking is one of the worst vices when it comes to health causing many cancers, early aging and untimely death!
- Check your health: blood pressure, Cholesterol, women: get a Pap smear and men+50 check your prostate”.
In his closing remarks, he outlined that PAHO/WHO collaborates with policy and decision makers to create healthy environments and public spaces to facilitate healthy living making it easier for individuals to exercise healthier choices.
The Caribbean Wellness Week activity ended with the conduct of physical aerobics. All participants were encouraged to do the exercises. The physical activity segment was included to emphasize the importance of exercise as a contributory factor to good health for all and ultimately, a healthy body.