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Guyana: Don’t abuse alcohol, fast foods’

President calls on Guyanese to shun the causes of lifestyle diseases

President David Granger said prevention is always best as he called on Guyanese to separate themselves from the causes of lifestyle diseases when he declared open Guyana’s inaugural Health Expo at the Sophia Exhibition Centre under the theme “Reaching for a Better Life with Good Health.”

Excessive alcohol, smoking and addiction to fast foods are among key factors contributing to the rise in Non-Communicable Diseases (NDCs) such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure, President Granger pointed out as he addressed the large gathering. These diseases, however, can be prevented if active healthy lifestyles are adopted.

In keeping with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDH), every citizen of Guyana, under the Constitution of Guyana, is entitled to free medical attention. And while the Government through the Public Health Ministry is moving to further decentralise health services, allowing for critical services to be accessed at the level of each region, and within towns and neighbourhoods, President Granger emphasised that prevention is key to primary healthcare.

Primary healthcare is the provision of medical services within communities. In Guyana, primary healthcare is a pillar of the National Public Health Strategy dubbed Health Vision 2020 and at the centre of that is prevention. “Prevention of lifestyle diseases is part of the human socialisation process,” the President said while positing that it begins in the home and is enforced at the level of the community. Abuse of alcohol, smoking, and excessive use of fast food coupled with inactivity are not only unhealthy but results in economic burdens for families and even the healthcare system.

“So we need at the level of the school, at the level of the home to discontinue the use of sugar water, however it is bottled; discontinue the use of preserved and processed food which …(contains) sodium, and other chemicals which contribute to hypertension and obesity, diabetes and …heart diseases,” the President urged. He noted that the fastest and most effective way of reducing those costs is by ensuring that as Guyanese, at the individual level, separate themselves from the causes of lifestyle diseases.

Like the President, Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence, in addressing the gathering, called on Guyanese to embrace lifestyles that would allow the country to become the healthiest nation in the Caribbean and the Americas. Healthy active lifestyles, she explained would impact significantly on the reduction of the NCD risk factors, and more importantly would be pivotal in helping the ministry and by extension the country to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly SDG #3.

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