In an effort to educate the masses on healthy lifestyles, the Grand Bahama Health Services (GBHS) hosted the Caribbean Wellness Day Health Fair on September 7, on the grounds of the Eight Mile Rock Community Clinic.
The first of its kind on the island, Valeria Burrows, GBHS Communications Department Assistant Director explained, “Today we are celebrating Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD), which is observed on the second Saturday of each September, annually. Our counterparts in Nassau have always had activities to observe this day and we here in Grand Bahama are beginning to get that ball rolling. This is our first year observing this day, at this magnitude.”
Officially established in September 2007 by the CARICOM Heads of Summit on Chronic Diseases in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, CWD was legally established in 2011 by the Inter-Government Agreement and officially began its operation in 2013.
“The theme for this year is, ‘Love that Body: Preserving the Workforce.’ As you can imagine, the workforce is a good chunk of our population – because we are talking about the age range of 18 to 65 within businesses, companies and government agencies – invariably, there will be sicknesses losing manpower hours, which cause a hike in the overtime rates.
“Persons will then have to have extended sick leave and by and large it is predominantly due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, hypotension, kidney diseases, diabetes, and the list goes on. The idea behind all of this is to educate and inform our public, as to how they can go about living healthier lifestyles to avoid the pitfalls of those NCDs,” said Burrows.
With a number of GBHS representatives on hand, as well as other entities, all with the same view of educating the public, Burrows continued, “We have various entities represented here today such as Alkali Water Company, the HIV/AIDS Survivors Benefit (HASB), who is responsible for the HIV Rapid Testing, Sandy’s Tropic Café, which is located right here in the Eight Mile Rock area, where this health fair is being held. They offer healthy eating alternatives. Of course, we have Baptist Health International, all the way from Florida here as well, but they do have a Bahamian representative here.
“All-in-all, we have had the involvement of our high school students, both junior and senior high, from public and private schools who underwent a session of orientation to understand what the organizations – Grand Bahama Health Services, Public Hospitals Authority – are all about, so that they too can be a part of what we are doing by way of volunteering their services. They usually have a program in the high schools where they provide voluntary community service hours, as a graduation requirement. We afforded them that opportunity in this particular activity, to accumulate some of their community hours for graduation.
“We also have School Health Services and our Healthy Lifestyle team as well, taking care of the various biometric screenings to ensure that we are healthy, that our waistlines are not out of sorts and are at the correct measurements so that we can determine whether we are obese or not.
“And if we are, they will do the necessary referrals to our various clinical services to ensure that those persons receive the treatment that they require and the additional education that they need to ensure that they are healthy,” Burrows disclosed.
“This event is all about advising persons about healthy living, living a healthier lifestyle so that we can begin to tremendously decrease the NCDs that exist among us.
“Caribbean Wellness Day was formed in Trinidad and Tobago with the CARICOM member states, because there was that concern of the NCDs that existed in the Caribbean region. We here in The Bahamas also have our concerns and we want to come on board, to partner with them in this entire program and do our part here on Grand Bahama Island, as it is happening in Nassau as well – to ensure that our populous receives the various information that they need.
“Again, the focus this year is on the workforce … that is critical to stress because at the end of the day we want to make sure that businesses are not losing manpower hours and not expending more than they should, by having to pay for overtime because people are sick.”
In addition to Saturday’s event, the GBHS has scheduled its Annual Beach Olympics for Saturday, September 15 to tie in with the healthy lifestyle message.
“An extension of this Health Fair, we anticipate having a Beach Olympics event on September 15 beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Taino Beach.”
Obstacle courses, dominoes, three-legged races, volleyball, basketball and tug-of-war competitions will take place during the event. Burrows shared that all corporate entities are encouraged to participate. To date nine private companies are already on board to participate in the event.
Interested persons can contact Burrows at 350-6772 for more information on the upcoming event.