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Tuesday, January 17, 2006 

17th January
Bahamas Facing Health Dilemma
Royanne Forbes-Darville

The Bahamas is facing a health dilemma, Minister of Health Dr. Marcus Bethel said yesterday as he announced a number of initiatives to encourage Bahamians to enjoy a healthier and better life.

"Far too many persons in our beautiful country continue to make poor lifestyle choices and too many of them are dying from chronic, non-communicable diseases," said Dr. Bethel.

In 2003, some 45 percent of deaths were due to Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCD), including diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory disease and cancer, Dr. Bethel said.

He added that the 2001 Bahamas Living Conditions Survey and the 2005 CNCD survey revealed that obesity is a major risk factor for chronic non-communicable diseases, as some 65 percent of adult Bahamians are considered to be overweight.

"Additionally, some 23 percent of 11-20 year-olds are overweight," Dr Bethel noted.
"Given these realities, the former Governor General Dame Ivy Dumont and Prime Minister Perry Christie threw out a challenge to the Ministry of Health to vigorously pursue its mandate to ensure that the people of The Bahamas adopt healthier lifestyle practices."

As part of the ministry’s efforts to pursue that mandate, a national walk, rally and health fair are scheduled for February 4th to highlight the importance of physical activity and healthy eating to personal wellness and improved quality of life.

Dr. Danny Johnson said that the events planned for next month are meant to promote national health and prevent disease.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, said that the planning unit in the Ministry of Health has been working very hard to impact the health behaviours in local communities.

"We also want to change the disease patterns…where we have hypertensive disease and heart disease and stroke being number two, three and four leading causes of death in males, and in females diabetes, strokes and heart disease, three four and five leading causes of death in females," Dr. Dahl-Regis said.

"So it is important that we start very early, in childhood, because our data is showing that obesity is beginning very early in the first and second grades. So we want all families to change their lifestyle behaviours and their nutritional practices."

The walk in New Providence will begin promptly at 7 a.m. at Arawak Cay and end at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre on the northern side of the Kendal G. L. Isaacs Gymnasium, where the official opening of the rally will take place at 9 a.m.

Booths set up in the gym will feature sporting activities, health screening and counselling, nutrition related and physical fitness demonstrations, health information and healthy food choices and music and entertainment.

The Bahama Journal - Bahamas News Online Edition
Copyright Jones Communications Ltd. ©2005 - Nassau, Bahamas.

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