Our esteemed Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton has been attending the 71st Session of the World Health Assembly and had the opportunity to speak on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – an issue he has been waging a public education campaign on for some time now through his Jamaica Moves and other initiatives. Here are some updates on his activities and comments at the Assembly. I have merged two press releases from the Ministry here. For more information, please contact Petre Williams Raynor at email@example.com Tel: (876 ) 633-8174. N.B. I think I will have to start following in the Minister’s footsteps everywhere. He is losing an enviable amount of weight and is regularly seen now in a sweaty T-shirt. Perhaps I might lose some weight too. However, the concept of “behavior change” is, I do feel, easier said than done. I wish I could change mine.
Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton has called for greater leadership and cooperation at the regional and international levels, to enable countries, including Jamaica, to progress toward the provision of universal health care (UHC).
Jamaica’s journey to UHC, the minister, is evidenced by, among other things, a 10-year strategic plan for the health sector and a roadmap for a national health insurance plan.
“The strategic plan will build on our achievements in the area of primary health care, utilizing the framework of Integrated Health Service Delivery Networks to create a robust health system based on primary care delivery,” Tufton noted.
“With the current epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), we must also place more emphasis on prevention and health promotion through multi-sectoral partnerships and mainstreaming health in all policies. The Government of Jamaica continues to provide leadership in advocating behavioral modification, public education and moving towards regulation in order to address Jamaica’s NCD epidemic,” he added.
At the same time, Tufton said the elimination of financial barriers, including at public health facilities, is a critical component of Jamaica’s drive to provide UHC.
“We have taken steps to, for example, abolish user fees and provide protection for citizens living with NCDs through the creation of the National Health Fund and the Jamaica Drugs for the Elderly Programme. These are not easy decisions. However, this must be done to achieve equity and protection,” he maintained.
The Health Minister acknowledged that Jamaica cannot achieve its national development goal of a healthy and stable population on its own. It was against this background that he called for “greater leadership and coordination at the regional and international levels”. The Minister stated that Jamaica anticipates the critical role to be played by the WHO in providing greater technical support and best practices; building on existing foundations in areas, such as health systems, affordable patient-centered care, professionally-trained hospital administrators and quality community-based interventions.
The minister also called for technical assistance for strengthening health information systems and the health workforce, reiterating Jamaica’s call made previously for urgent attention to the global shortage of health workers, in particular, specialist nurses.
KINGSTON, Jamaica. 22 May 2018 – Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton has said that key to overcoming Jamaica and the world’s challenge with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer and heart disease, are investments in behaviour change initiatives that prompt long-term shifts in people’s lifestyle choices.
“The world’s collective intellectual capacity makes us all understand the issues and the impact of NCDs on global population. Where we need to do more work is using information to appeal to people’s emotions to influence behavior change,” he said.
Tufton was speaking in Geneva on Monday, at an NCD Alliance side event, hosted at the 71stWorld Health Assembly under the theme, ‘Making 2018 the year of action and accountability for NCDs’.
According to the World Health Organisation, 40 million died from NCDs in 2015, equivalent to 70 percent of deaths globally. A similar situation was observed in Jamaica with the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) reporting that in 2015, 70 percent of deaths in the population five years and older died from NCDs.
“We are addicted to our lifestyles and that addiction makes it difficult to change behaviour. The missing link to combatting NCDs is to invest in perception and behaviour change. This is not a clinical response but rather a psychological response,” the minister said.
“We are competing with culture and large corporations, they invest millions in marketing and product positioning. We need to apply behavioural science to the data and evidence we have that supports the need for lifestyle changes. That’s what we are doing with Jamaican Moves,” he added.
Jamaica Moves is one of several NCD interventions being pursued by the Ministry of Health to alleviate the effects of NCDs on individuals and the health system.
Among the main risk factors for chronic NCDs are improper diet, lack of physical activity, tobacco smoking and alcohol abuse.
The twinning of Jamaica Moves with the initiatives being undertaken by the National Food Industry Task Force, along with the instituted ban on tobacco smoking in public places, reflect the elemental strategies for combatting NCDs on the island.
This three-pronged approach, together with early screening and testing, supports the National Strategic and Action Plan for the Prevention of NCDs (2013-2018).