by Linda Straker
- Ministry of Health to develop a policy framework that emphasises wellness
- Ministry of Education to look at quality of meals served in schools
- Ministry of Environment and Climate Change will deal building greater climate resilience
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has said that the issues of wellness and environmental management will be fundamental to the island’s development as his government embarks on making Grenada a model society in the Caribbean basin.
Dr Mitchell — in his first address following the taking of his oath to serve as minister for National Security, Public Administration, Home Affairs, Information, Communications and Technology (ICT), Finance, Planning Economic Development, Physical Development — explained that sustained growth and improving the quality of life of the people break down to an individual responsibility. He expressed his concern about the personal choices some make and the effects these choices are having on health.
“The high instances of non-communicable diseases in our society, in particular — as it is in the region — is a developmental concern. Most of these diseases are lifestyle-based, by the things we eat and drink; by lack of exercise and general inactivity; as well as the contamination of our environment,” he said, calling for the issue of our lifestyle to be an urgent discussion.
“We cannot hope to build a prosperous nation when so many of our people are coming down with such diseases as cancer, diabetes and hypertension, most of which are highly correlated to obesity,” he told the hundreds who had turned up to witness the swearing-in of the Cabinet Ministers at the National Stadium.
“As much as the Ministry of Health must focus on medical services, which speaks to what we can do when people get sick, a greater emphasis going forward must be to prevent so many people from getting sick in the first place,” he said. He gave the assurance that the mandate of the Ministry of Health, which will be headed by Nikolas Steele, will be to develop a policy framework that emphasises wellness.
He said that the Ministry of Education must not be overlooked in the wellness context. It will have to look at the quality of meals being served in schools, with the understanding that the country needs to reduce the intake of sugars and salts; and help to develop a taste among our young for healthier foods.
Speaking about the environmental management, Dr Mitchell said that the issue of better management of our environment also goes to the core of the prosperous society that his administration is determined to build.
“Our waste disposal practices still leave a lot to be desired. We must move quickly from our dependence on using plastic and styrofoam material to carry our products and our foods, to using biodegradable material,’ he said. He called for Grenada to study the experiences of nations around the world and at the same time to consider legislation that will hasten environmental sustainability, especially in this era of climate change.
“On the macro environmental scale, the issue of climate change that the world community faces will remain a genuine challenge of our time. Part of our policy going forward will be to build the kind of resilience that will help us survive the worst: upgrading our housing and our infrastructure; refusing to build communities in disaster-prone areas; having more respect for our environment; preventing the blockage of drains; better managing our waste disposal; lessening the dependence on such things as plastics that are bad for the environment; enforcing building codes and not tolerating shortcuts,” he said.
“It is, therefore, not by coincidence, that we are setting up a Ministry of Environment and Climate Change that will deal with the issue of building greater climate resilience through climate adaptation and mitigation. This new ministry will be responsible for managing our natural resources; management of our environment and disaster management. These issues are some of the fundamental developmental challenges of our time,” he justified.