Caribbean Wellness Day (Sep 12, 2020) address by Min of Health, Wellness and New Health Investment

Dr. Irving McIntyre

Fellow Dominicans,

This year Dominica along with the rest of the Caribbean Region will be celebrating the
thirteenth Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD) on Saturday September 12, 2020 under the
theme “Power through Collective Action-Stronger Together 2020”.

Over the last twelve (12) years, the overall theme for Caribbean Wellness Day was ‘Love
that Body’ with a focus on preventing and controlling Non Communicable Diseases
throughout the life course. After consultations with key partners, the region continues with
the life course approach but extends it to include a ‘whole of society’ engagement for the
next five (5) years – 2020-2024.

After much consideration the region decided on a new overall theme, ‘Power through
Collective Action’, this will be the theme for Caribbean Wellness Day for the next five (5)
years, with the sub-theme ‘Stronger Together 2020’.

Caribbean Wellness Day celebration reminds us that together we are in the fight to reduce
the prevalence of Non Communicable Diseases in Dominica and the wider Caribbean, in
order to make a reality of the declaration “Uniting to Stop the Spread of Chronic Non
Communicable Disease”, which was signed by all heads of government at the CARICOM

Heads of Government summit in September 2007.
This annual event is geared at increasing awareness and promoting activities to address the
epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which continue to affect the health,
economy and development of our nation and whole of society.

We are all familiar with the fact that Dominica, like all the other regional and international
countries, is faced with the challenge of dealing with Non-Communicable Diseases. These
diseases which include diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer and mental
disorders are now the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the country. These
conditions cause a considerable impact on individuals and families, but also have major
implications on the delivery of health services, the workforce and the economic standing of
our nation as a whole. In the national context, Non-Communicable Diseases have
surpassed communicable diseases as Dominica’s dominant health concern.

Factors such as obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, smoking, exposure to second
hand smoke, the harmful use of alcohol and poor management of stress are some of the
main risk factors that contribute to these diseases.

This year’s theme “Power through Collective Action’-Stronger Together 2020” focuses
on raising awareness about mental illness and mental health, addressing stigma and
discrimination (especially towards frontline essential and/or health care workers), and
promoting coping strategies aimed at reducing stress, especially during this COVID-19

Mental health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a “state of well-being in
which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of
life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her
community”. Mental disorders and psychoactive substance-related disorders are highly
prevalent throughout the world and are major contributors to morbidity, disability, and
premature mortality.

The stigma, social exclusion, and discrimination that occur around people with mental
disorders compound the situation, increasing the risk for other diseases and gaps in seeking
help and contributing to unintentional and intentional injury.

Not only does this impact the general public but health professionals and other front line
workers face stressful situations every day. During this COVID-19 pandemic, this is
especially true. The demand of this crisis requires support and stress management that will
help safeguard mental and physical health.

Fear, worry, and stress are normal responses during times when we are faced with
uncertainty or the unknown. It is normal and understandable that people are experiencing
these feelings in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and New Health Investment continues to embark on health
education in relation to stress management and promotion of chronic disease management
programs as well as COVID-19.

The Ministry continues to engage and work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
faith-based organizations, business entities and all seven health districts in the fight against
NCDs. This allows the ministry to mobilize and strengthen public, private, and civil society
partnerships for NCDs.

In keeping with efforts towards a country free of the avoidable burden of non-communicable
diseases, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and New Health Investment has adopted
Caribbean Wellness Month in September, which has become a best practice in Dominica
for promoting healthy lifestyles through physical activities and healthy diet and stress

To promote activities in support of health and wellness and motivate residents to develop
good health practices, this year’s activities will comprise of a ZOOM Yoga Event open to the
public on Saturday September 12, 2020 and a Panel Discussion raising awareness on
mental health and other activities by our key stakeholders.

The year 2020 has proven to be a challenging year for all of us, therefore, the Ministry of
Health, Wellness and New Health Investment, and by extension the Government of
Dominica, takes this opportunity to encourage each Dominican to make your health your
priority. Engage in physical activity, and healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress as
we continue our fight against non-communicable diseases.

Thank you and lets continue to partner for optimal health.

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  1. In the Interest of Health and Wellness
    September 12, 2020

    As we celebrate CWD let me take to opportunity to commend the Health minister and the Covid task force on their hard work and efforts in putting policies and protocols in place.

    I call on everyone involved, including the travelers to embrace the theme “Power through Collective Action-Stronger together 2020. Quarantine is not an inconvenience, it is very important, but it does not need to be a nightmare.

    Travelers should follow all protocols, and similarly, the people organizing the testing and quarantine process need to be organized and professional, and work towards making this a more pleasant experience.

    I would like to make a few suggestions in that regard:
    (1) Please communicate and inform travelers while they wait for lengthy periods at
    the airport. This would help greatly.
    (2) Please provide water, or make water available for purchase at the airport, and at
    cost of quarantine, water should be provided at quarantine site.

  2. Ibo France
    September 12, 2020

    A country’s health is a country’s wealth. Although it may be a very costly undertaking, the government should have provided health insurance for its people years before this present pandemic. Also, the government should have provided a state of the art healthcare system, something transformational.

    It is said that we dig our grves with our mouths. The present socio-economic conditions have left thousands of Dominicans with no choice but to consume cheap, sugary, salty, cholesterol laden foods. Hence the high cases of NCDs. Diabetes, hypertension, cancer, cardio vascular diseased, obesity are reaping havoc on the population.

    Having a government that only concerns itself with winning the next election (using corrupt practices), Dominicans seem resigned to a life of unhealthful diets, appalling poverty and perpetual hopelessness.

    The incumbents have to exit office for the country to breathe again. The country is being suffocated by corruption and poor governance.

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