Monday, 16 March 2015

A FINE BALANCE: The NHF targets Jamaican men with new 5 Star Health Fitness Challenge

IN THE SPIN: "I want to see a much bigger spend on promotion and prevention because we all know that prevention is better than cure," the health minister noted.

The sight of health minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson pedalling furiously on a stationary bike courtesy of the Cycle City and Fitness Limited team. Patrons of all sizes and ages participating in a variety of fitness challenges and other fun activities. Tents jam-packed with person awaiting free medical check-ups. Long queues formed for samples and participation in food-preparation demonstrations. These are only a few of the visual highlights at the day-long wellness festival, put on by the National Health Fund, which drew a large turnout to the Police Officers' Club in Kingston on Saturday.

The day's main event, however, was no fun-and-games matter. Devised to encourage more Jamaican males to put greater emphasis on leading healthier and more balanced lives, the 5 Star Health Fitness Challenge was officially launched by the NHF team, earning ringing endorsements from a raft of corporate sponsors and the green light from the health minister.

"Today we are witnessing a call, as men, to focus more on our health," Dr. Ferguson remarked, as he launched the programme, highlighting the NHF's unwavering commitment to the overall health of the nation. This year, he said, they are allocating some $1.7 billion for health promotion and to step up the fight against chronic lifestyle diseases affecting Jamaicans. "As minister, I want to see a much bigger spend on promotion and prevention because we all know that prevention is better than cure." He further noted, "Since its inception the NHF has saved a significant number of Jamaicans from premature death and now we are spending more to save more lives and bring more knowledge to our citizens." 

For the NHF team, the 5 Star Challenge is as good a start as any to get the ball rolling where Jamaican men are concerned. According to the fund's health promotion co-ordinator, Rosemarie Stewart, the challenge involves urging participants to adhere to five key things: working out, eating healthy, getting adequate rest, consulting a physician regularly, and taking their medication as prescribed. "We did our research and we found that a lot of men lacked motivation and the relevant information for living healthy lives," Stewart explained. "So we are currently building a repository of information." 

"Each week we'll be travelling to a different part of the island," says NHF CEO, Everton Anderson, "and we hope men will embrace the 5 Star Programme and the many others that the NHF will be embarking on throughout the year."

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