Thu | Jul 19, 2018

Jamaica Moves road tour takes final lap in Portland

Published:Thursday | July 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Individuals at the Jamaica Moves Road Tour held in St. Elizabeth
Individuals being screened by the National Health Fund at the Jamaica Moves Road Tour in Falmouth, Trelawny
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The Jamaica Moves Road Tour will make its final stop in Portland, culminating the yearlong series of medical screenings, health education and physical activity sessions under the Ministry of Health-led initiative.

The road tour, which kicked off in the county of Cornwall last year July, has made stops in 13 parishes to date, with in excess of 12,000 individuals attending.

Each road tour features a health education session, covering topics such as healthy eating, mental health, HIV prevention and oral health. Screening activities include checks on blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, body mass index, waist circumference and haemoglobin, facilitated by the National Health Fund and the parish health teams.

To date, in excess of 8,000 medical screenings have been done and over 600 health education sessions done. Following the screening, attendees were engaged in outdoor workout activities.

Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton said it has been a great journey travelling to each parish and encouraging Jamaicans to be more aware of their health status by getting periodic physical check-ups by their doctors, and so be in a position to prevent or to reduce their risk of a non-communicable disease (NCD).

healthy lifestyle

The initiative also promoted dietary practices that are in keeping with a healthy lifestyle, which includes but is not limited to eating a balanced meal. Additionally, and very important, building environments in each parish that support physical activity for at least 30 minutes each day.

"We have seen MPs (members of parliament) from both political divides being on stage, participating and embracing and endorsing the programme. We are very proud of that. Health is a national imperative that should involve everyone. We want to demonstrate caring for everyone. The success of the programme is determined by the collaboration and the efforts that we get from all concerned," Tufton said.

According to the World Health Organisation, physical inactivity is among the main risks contributing to global chronic disease morbidity and mortality. Overall, these chronic diseases now account for 60 per cent of premature deaths annually.

The way forward: Public-private partnership

Given that the Jamaica Moves programme is about creating a lifestyle change, the Ministry of Health, in phase two, will be breaking into other critical segments of the population, enhancing the brand and creating motivation for behavioural change.

Already, the National Baking Company, through their Natural Bran Bread (a staple product in most Jamaican homes), has been pushing the Jamaica Moves message through their bread branding and has moved to reduce the sugar content in some of its breads by 33 per cent.

The programme is also intended to go into corporate companies in a more meaningful way, building on the Corporate Challenge.

"The intention is to develop a cadre of trainers who will be trained and certified by the MOH, and who will be available to go into companies and help them develop an internal company programme in order to encourage employees to live healthier lives and, by extension, become more productive and beneficial to those companies as well as to themselves," Tufton explained.

ongoing programme

Importantly, the programme will be brought to the community level, by building out a programme around the over 320 community health centres. Already some of the parishes currently have an ongoing physical activity programme.

"The intention over the next two to three years is to bring Jamaica Moves throughout the country in very specific and targeted way. Hopefully stemming the outbreak and the crises of lifestyle diseases that we are now confronting," Tufton said.

He further added that Jamaica Moves is intended to address all segments of the population, irrespective of creed and colour and political persuasion.

Jamaica Moves is the country's coordinated national response to the increased incidences of NCDs. Through education, engagement and the building of supportive environments, the programme hopes to reduce NCDs by 25 per cent by the year 2025.

The Jamaica Moves pro-gramme is fuelled through the partnership with Jamaica National Group, Chase Fund, RJRGLEANER Communications Group (TVJ and The Gleaner), National Health Fund, National Baking Company, WATA, and the Heart Foundation of Jamaica.