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Minister Jeanne Atherden Remarks: World Health Day

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen.

As the Minister of Health, Seniors and Environment I am very pleased to be here today as we celebrate World Health Day.

In preparing for my remarks I was reminded that one of the objectives of celebrating World Health Day annually was “To motivate the worldwide health authorities to make their own efforts in creating the healthy environments in their country”.  I reflected on whether we were achieving this here in Bermuda.

I listed among our ongoing efforts –

  1. A vision – Healthy People in Health Communities
  2. The Bermuda Health Strategy – 2014-2019 which established priorities for Bermuda’s health system reform, and
  3. Bermuda Health Action Plan – 2014-2019

And I believed we were on the right path.

When I examined the theme for World Health Day 2016 which is “Diabetes, scale up prevention, strengthen care and enhance surveillance” I was further encouraged, as part of the Health Priority Areas in the Bermuda Health Action Plan is to –

  • develop a chronic disease register
  • decrease the acuity of illness related to diabetes via education and appropriate clinical services, and
  • halt the rise in obesity and diabetes in Bermuda.

Having addressed the “Well Bermuda National Health Promotion Strategy” meeting in January, I knew that Bermuda had begun the process of creating Bermuda’s first concerted effort to create a joined-up approach to the promotion of health on our island, and to create a shared      vision for health promoters across all sectors.

Today represents the partnership, collaboration and participation which is required to create good health in Bermuda.

What is also required to create good health in Bermuda is our individual commitment to be part of the healthy people in healthy communities.

Ultimately, we know that health is absolutely essential to any community. Without health, we perish because children can’t develop well and hit all their milestones to set them on a strong and prosperous path. Without health adults can’t work to raise families and care for their elders.

Without health, our golden years tarnish and easily turn into a harrowing decade or two on a revolving door of healthcare institutions with a quality of life that is not deserved by anyone. We need health, and we need all of us to turn Bermuda into a community filled with healthy people.

Changing our culture so that the healthy choice becomes the easier choice more often for more people will take a concerted and unified effort from all of us. Everyone makes an even bigger difference when we are all aiming for the same target.

This event provides an excellent opportunity for all of us to commit to change.

Today, let’s consider our approach to our personal health. What are we doing right? How can we improve? Are we eating the right foods? Do we drink sufficient water on a daily basis? Do we get enough exercise? Let’s be honest with ourselves. Don’t put off until tomorrow what we should have done yesterday.

Are we truly taking care of ourselves the way we should?

More awareness is needed of cause and effect. So please visit the provider partners here today and have them explain which illnesses are caused by lifestyles which you can change.

The Department of Health’s goal this year is to reduce non-communicable disease and to halt the rise in diabetes and obesity.

Diabetes is a chronic disease and very prevalent in Bermuda . . . far too prevalent for an island this small.

We can reduce the risk of diabetes and we can control and manage it if we properly assess our lifestyle and make the necessary changes for better health.

This is an ideal opportunity to evaluate our habits and take steps to prevent diabetes and other chronic diseases. I encourage everyone to become advocates for better health.

On behalf of the Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment, I would like to thank the Bermuda Diabetes Association and all our partners here today.

We are encouraging residents to commit to change by choosing to drink water, exercise daily and eating more vegetables.

Before I close, I want to mention something I heard today on the news. Health advocates are suggesting that in addition to the calorie information that is put on labels there should be ‘Activity Equivalent Calorie Information” on the label which would tell the buyer how much activity it would take to burn off the calories they will consume.  It is an interesting thought but it still takes our personal choice and commitment to either change our eating habits or increase our exercise.

Let’s truly commit to change!

Thank You.

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