#Kingston, October 2, 2018 – Jamaica – Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, has called on nutritionists and dietitians in the public health service to become advocates for healthy eating, as a critical component in addressing the problem of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Jamaica.
“You are charged and challenged with providing the technical advice linked to better consumption habits, diet and balance, and you have to promote what you practice,” he told the professionals at a recent meeting at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston. My challenge to you is to be forthright about what you do. Develop additional self-confidence to talk about it, to practice it, to advocate for it, even while you are giving advice,” he added.
According to Dr. Tufton, the work of the nutritionists and dietitians in the country has largely gone unrecognized, and this should not be the case as they play an important role in the health and welfare of citizens.
“Many times, you are the unsung heroes, but I want that to change. I want the country to recognize that eating habits and the advice that is offered are far more valuable than the need for an operating theatre because we are trying to avoid going in the operating theatre in the first instance,” he pointed out.
“We also want them to recognize that 30 minutes of physical activity every day is far more valuable as a prescription than going to a Drug Serv window and purchasing medication for cancer or stroke or other non-communicable diseases,” he added.
He noted that Jamaica Moves, which promotes healthy diet and exercise, was launched almost two years ago as a direct result of data that indicated that “Jamaicans are eating and drinking themselves sick”.
Dr. Tufton said that as Health Minister, “I try to practice what I preach” by making exercise a regular habit. I want the country to recognize that practicing a healthy lifestyle is the appropriate prescription in the first instance as it relates to promoting health and wellness,” he said.
The meeting with the nutritionists and dietitians from hospitals and health departments across the island was organised by the Ministry’s Nutrition Unit to develop parish plans for the implementation of the nutrition component of Jamaica Moves.