Government’s NEW Life Initiative was officially launched to at the Sandals Grande Resort and Spa on Monday 4th January 2016.
The NEW Life campaign which highlights the importance of Nutrition, Exercise and Water, thus the abbreviation N.E.W, will feature a series of activities involving members of the public, the staff at Ministry of Health and the Environment along-with several stakeholders throughout Antigua and Barbuda.
The ceremony was attended by Chairperson of the National Wellness Committee-Valarie Williams, Health Information Division’s Research and Communication’s Officer-Jason Percival, Public Health Practitioner-Dr Terri Ann Joseph, NEW Life Spokes Model-Kimberly Ephraim and Calbert Francis of sponsors Oasis Water-Premier Beverages.
Director of the Health Information Division, Colin O’Keiffe, who was one of the main speakers at the launch, revealed that statistics show that unhealthy lifestyle practices are having a serious impact on the health of the nation.
“In Antigua and Barbuda, our records indicate that from the year 2011 to 2014, Diabetes has increased from 1192 cases to 1567 reported cases and obesity has also increased within that same time period from 1584 cases to 2675 cases and during that same period, Hypertension increased from 2768 to well over 3 thousand reported cases’ O’Keiffe stated.
He added that the records also indicate that cancer, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension are all ranked within the six main causes of death from the period 2009 to 2012.
But O’Keiffe is of the view that all is not lost and believes that with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO’s) support, the National Wellness Committee and the NEW Life initiative will have a huge impact on the population.
“A few years ago, Antigua and Barbuda established a National NCD Committee and with PAHO’s guidance we created a National NCD Policy and Strategic Implementation Plan and that Committee evolved into the National Wellness Committee, a more comprehensive and robust body and it is this body that decided to plan and execute a comprehensive NEW Life campaign in Antigua and Barbuda We will remain committed, and pledge to never allow ourselves to stray from this wonderful part of improved health and wellness for Antigua and Barbuda and further afield, it’s a new day, it’s a NEW Life”, O’Keiffe noted.
Williams who is also the NCD Focal Point Coordinator within the Ministry, has expressed satisfaction at being a part of an organization that is working overtime to change lives for the betterment of the country on a whole.
“I am thrilled at the opportunity given to me to utilize the fundamental foundational principles of health & wellness to improve, transform and save lives; to strategically coordinate health and wellness for Antigua and Barbuda. Wellness is an active process of optimizing every aspect of our multi-dimensional self to harmoniously reflect our creator by nurturing and emphasizing physical, mental, emotional social and spiritual development. Wellness is an active, lifelong process of becoming aware of choices and making decisions towards a more balanced and fulfilling life, a complete lifestyle, challenging us to make positive choices in all areas of our lives each day’, Williams declared.
According to Williams, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of disease.
She added that the integration of five (5) deeply connected pillars namely, physical, spiritual, mental, relational and professional wellness, promote living life to the fullest potential.
‘Physical wellness means we exercise eat and sleep well; physical fitness increases physical health. By being physically fit and well, you are better able to take care of yourself. Developing intellectual wellness is critical to helping in doing better at school and at work, and does prevents the onset of disease. If you regularly learn new things and engage your minds, you can prevent mental health problems’ Williams remarked.
Williams emphasized that the Health of the nation will depend on the combined assistance of both the Government and Private Sector as well the general population.
The NCD Focal Point Coordinator assured that the Wellness Committee and by extension the Ministry of Health and the Environment are strongly committed to positioning the issue of health and wellness, as a priority in sustainable development.
She however said that this requires bringing together the efforts of all social partners; communities, the workplace, schools, families and citizens to develop healthy inclusive environments, for children, adolescents, adults and the elderly so as to transform communities into healthier individuals .
Late in 2015, in an interview with the Ministry of Health’s PR Department, Williams outlined a few of the plans that will form part of the NEW Life programs
“We are very excited about these activities that we will be bringing on board for the new year and we are looking at a biggest loser competition, because one of our aims is to reduce obesity in the country, we are also doing a community project where we will be having exercise classes in different communities, we are also going to implement a Water Wednesday where persons will be invited to drink water instead of the sugary products and we have a Facebook page where persons can say how much water they had on that day”, Williams said.
Singer/Artist Romancia Kingston is the lead vocalist behind the NEW Life promo which is currently growing in popularity on the airwaves.