Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 4th 2017 Contents A10 news
guardian.co.tt Thursday, May 4, 2017
As the Ministry of Health
steps up efforts to reclaim T&T
from the scourge of Non-Com-
municable Diseases (NCD's)
currently crippling it, Health
Minister Terrence Deyalsingh
says the Government is com-
mitted to doing everything to
ensure the next generation is
more healthy and fit.
Among the efforts will be the
establishment of public outdoor
gyms in strategic locations and the
introduction of a national physi-
cal activity plan specially targeting
the elderly and children.
While the funding for these ini-
tiatives will come from a US$48.4
million loan with the Inter-Amer-
ican Development Bank (IDB),
Deyalsingh said other efforts
would be channeled into a mas-
sive public education campaign
in a bid to transform the mental
and physical well-being of the
The proposed initiatives will be
implemented on a phased basis
over a five-year period.
Speaking at the launch of
the National Strategic Plan for
the Prevention and Control of
2017-2021 at the Trinidad Hilton
yesterday, Deyalsingh said they
were even considering a televi-
sion series on healthy cooking
alternatives for the family.
He said this was all in keeping
with Government's thrust to re-
duce NCD's and motivate persons
to embark on a lifestyle change.
Revealing that he had shocked
his communications team when
he informed them of his wish to
rebrand the Ministry of Health
with a new tagline "Healthy Me,
Healthy You, Healthy T&T"
alsingh said firm and decisive ac-
tion was needed now if they were
to have a positive impact in trans-
forming behaviour modification.
Claiming that this country's
population was "too sedentary,"
Deyalsingh said, "People must not
wake up on a morning and take
their sugar pill or take their hy-
pertension pill and then sit down
get the country moving."
Revealing that he walked every-
where now and had even moved
his desk to a counter which re-
quired him to stand, Deyalsingh
said this was now part of his per-
sonal effort to keep fit.
He also urged persons to think
carefully before consuming fast
foods as despite the affordability
and availability, it had long-last-
ing effects on a person's health.
Adding that a significant part
of the loan would be used to re-
train and equip primary healthcare
workers with the necessary tools
to treat people at the community
level, Deyalsingh said the ministry
was working towards moving the
population away from secondary
and tertiary care facilities unless
He commended the North Cen-
tral Regional Health Authority
(NCRHA) for its initiative to re-
introduce home visits as part of
its effort to educate persons on
their particular illness and the
requisite treatment which would
not require them to come to the
hospital each time.
Hailing T&T as a pioneer in
the fight against NCD's, IDB
Chief Operations officer Carina
Cockburn said 80 per cent of all
deaths in T&T were attributable
As the country with the highest
NCD rate in the Americas, Cock-
burn said over 50 per cent of the
population aged 15 - 64 years were
overweight or obese - with rates of
overweight and obesity in school
children aged five to 18 having in-
creased from 11 per cent in 1999
to 23 per cent in 2009.
She added that over the same
ten year period, obesity in children
increased by 400 per cent from 2.4
per cent to 12.5 per cent.
Cockburn said it was a similar
development since 1980 regarding
the prevalence of diabetes in T&T
which had increased by 350 per
cent, from four per cent to current
estimates of 14.5 per cent.
Acknowledging the gravity of
the situation as highlighted by
the figures above, Cockburn said,
"We often forget the human and
emotional side of NCD's."
She added, "The truth of the
matter is that NCD's are non-dis-
criminatory, affecting people of
every ethnicity and economic
status, plaguing our loved ones
and disrupting the social fabric
of our families and communities."
The Health Ministry's HIV
Co-ordinating Unit has recog-
nised there is inadequate pro-
grammes on HIV/Aids to target
Disabled people must also be
included in appropriate sex and re-
productive healthcare and education
initiatives, urged deputy permanent
secretary in the Social Development
Ministry, Dennis Williams.
He was speaking at the launch of a
puberty, sex and sexuality informa-
tional DVD compiled by the Digicel
Foundation in partnership with the
Caribbean Kids and Families Therapy
The non-profit organisation pro-
vides therapy to children with dis-
The foundation has invest-
ed $119,000 into the programme
which was introduced in 2015 via a
series of lectures but it was taken a
step further yesterday through the
launch of a video.
Williams said in 2015 and 2016 the
ministry conducted sensitisation
programmes on HIV to the disabled
and similar initiatives were expected
to be rolled out this year.
"Young persons with disabilities
must enjoy the same rights, oppor-
tunities and access the same infor-
mation as their peers.
"At the ministry we are keenly
aware that persons with disabilities
need to be included in appropriate
sex and reproductive healthcare and
education initiatives ," Williams said.
Desha Clifford, director of the
Digicel Foundation, said while it
was often considered taboo world-
wide, sex education was extremely
important to anyone's development,
especially those with special needs.
Toni Betaudier, educational psy-
chologist working with the organisa-
tion, said sexual abuse was prevalent
in T&T's society and children with
disabilities were particularly vul-
She said there were many myths
surrounding sexuality and disability
"We do know that in spite of hav-
ing a disability children will grow up,
their bodies will mature and they will
develop feelings that are strange and
" Just as we prepare them for other
aspects of life, it is our duty to pre-
pare them for their sexual develop-
Betaudier said while talking about
sex was uncomfortable it was even
more so for children with disabilities.
"Persons with disabilities have
unique needs that have to be ac-
counted for when having conversa-
tions about physical and emotional
development," she said.
The high incidences of teenage
pregnancies, Betaudier said, and
sexually transmitted diseases, as well
as the prevalence of sexual abuse in
communities highlighted the need
for increased education for children.
Not enough HIV/Aids programmes for disabled---ministry
Chairman of the Caribbean Kids and Families Therapy Organisation, Sofia Figueroa-Leon, centre, presents a copy of
a DVD on puberty, sex and sexuality information to Dennis Williams, deputy PS, Ministry of Social Development,
during its launch yesterday. Looking on is Desha Selochan, director, Digicel Foundation. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
Minister: Public gyms to
help keep population fit
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, second from left, chats with Sheila Aaron Providence, president, Healthy
Caribbean Coalition, Sir Trevor Hassell and UWI chancellor, Sir George Alleyne, right, during the ministry's launch of
the National Strategic Plan for the Prevention and control of Non Communicable Diseases at Hilton Trinidad &
Conference Centre yesterday. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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