The Health Minister made the announcement at yesterday’s March 10, 2021, Sixth Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth House of Assembly at Save the Seed Energy Centre in Duff’s Bottom, Tortola, while delivering a speech on the re-launch of the ‘Healthy Schools’ Programme.
According to Hon Malone, since his ministry is aware that to attain a wealthy society, one must also have a healthy society, it is committed to a functioning and well funded Health and Wellness Council.
For workplaces, he said the Non-communicable Disease Committee will work with the Ministry of Labour in developing healthy workplaces, in addition to partnering with the Ministry of Transport to develop healthy spaces in the territory.
The collaboration will also continue in schools, where the Health Ministry will partner with the Ministry of Education to re-implement the school health programme, which received some setbacks from hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
“Inadequate physical activity and unhealthy eating are two behavioural risk factors… these will contribute to chronic disease which is identified as a significant health problem in the territory,” Hon Malone said while indicating that the Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Programme will lead the school aspect of the initiative.
The Health Minister underscored that public health research has long established the vital role of nutrition and physical activity as two essential aspects of a good school health program.
Fuelled by fruits and vegetables, he said a healthy diet can prevent obesity, along with some chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers.
Further, the Health Minister said there is mounting evidence that also shows age-appropriate regular physical activity contributes to children's health and well-being.
“Good nutrition and physical activity contribute to the health of children, but there is also strong evidence that they contribute to the support of children's academic performance.”
Citing the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Hon Malone referenced US research where physical activity was found to positively contribute to student's cognitive skills, attitudes, activities and academic performance.
“I stressed the importance of this initiative since it can help to improve our children's health, which is also important with the threat of COVID-19."
He said the impact of physical activities is also seen to enhance children’s concentration, attention and schoolroom behaviour.