Health Minister Liburd tackles incidents of lifestyle diseases

Minister of Heath, Hon. Marcella Liburd (photo by Erasmus Williams)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JUNE 22ND 2010 (CUOPM) – Four months after taking office as the Federation’s fifth Minister of Health since political independence, the Hon. Marcella Liburd, has received Cabinet approval for new dietary guidelines aimed at reducing the incidence of lifestyle diseases.

Ms. Liburd reminded her Cabinet colleagues of the twin-island Federation’s commitment to facilitate the access to nutritionally adequate diets by all people at all times, and posited that the new dietary guidelines are geared towards achieving this.

Minister Liburd, who took office in February, following the January 25th General Elections, alluded to the Rome Declaration (1996) on World Food Security by the FAO where global commitment was made to provide nutritionally adequate and safe food for the world’s people.

She provided ministers with an analysis of the situation with infectious and

chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and informed that whereas there has been a decrease in the incidence of infectious diseases, and infant mortality, there has been an increase in chronic NCDs.

Minister Liburd, who succeed the Hon. Rupert Herbert, explained that improved access to prenatal and neonatal care, sanitation, immunization and rehydration therapy has drastically improved with respect to infant mortality.

The most prevalent NCDs were identified as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer, and the Minister revealed that all of these are linked to obesity, poor nutrition and lack of exercise.

Ms. Liburd, a former netballer, sports enthusiast and regular jogger, reinforced her vision to promote better eating habits, regular exercise and nutrition education, and ultimately to reduce the incidence of lifestyle diseases.

The New Dietary Guidelines are as follows:

1. Choose foods from the 6 food groups everyday

2. Limit the use of foods and drinks with added salt or sugar

3. Use less fats and oils when preparing and cooking foods

4. Eat different types of fruits everyday

5. Eat a variety of vegetables daily

6. Use less salty and processed foods

7. If you use alcohol, do so sparingly

8. Be physically active by exercising for at least 30 minutes everyday

Cabinet said the dietary guidelines were developed through focus group discussions with members of the public and will be fully launched and disseminated in the upcoming weeks.

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