NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (MARCH 10, 2016) — The following is an address delivered by Hon. Mark Brantley Deputy Premier of Nevis and Minister of Health on the occasion of World Kidney Day observed on March 10, 2016.
My fellow citizens, residents and friends,
I speak to you in my capacity as Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration on the occasion of World Kidney Day.
World Kidney Day is a global awareness campaign observed annually on the second Thursday in March. The campaign highlights the importance of the kidneys and is currently in its 11th year. The theme for this year is “Kidney Disease in Children: Act Early to Prevent It!”
As such, the focus will be on educating parents, children, policy makers and other stakeholders about the prevention of kidney disease, through engagement in healthy lifestyle practices, as well as early detection of kidney disease and the importance of treating childhood kidney disease.
Kidney diseases in children can be caused by birth defects, trauma and other factors and can be acute (lasting a short time) or may be chronic and require treatment for life.
High risk factors for these diseases include diabetes and hypertension which are associated with unhealthy lifestyle practices including the over consumption of salt and sugar. With over 450 registered diabetics and over 500 registered hypertensive persons on Community Clinic Registers in Nevis, it is important that measures be taken beginning in childhood to keep kidney diseases at bay.
The Ministry of Health is aware of the need for early intervention and as such, the Public Health Department of the Ministry of Health provides health education services to children as young as pre-school age through secondary school.
These services range from health education sessions; the provision of healthy school meals through the attachment of an executive chef in primary schools; the hosting of “Chef Academies” in partnership with the Rouse Foundation; and the installation of hydroponic systems (a system in which vegetables can be grown without soil) at some primary schools, as well as various other initiatives.
While treatment for chronic kidney disease is available in the Federation, we continue to focus attention on prevention which ensures better quality of life and eliminates the huge financial burden of treatment. The old adage passed on from our grandparents remains true. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
Acting early to prevent kidney disease also requires involvement of the community and various non-governmental organizations at that level such as the Nevis Renal Society, faith based organizations and others. We applaud these groups and encourage others to be an advocate for change in their communities with regard to the encouragement of healthy lifestyles.
It is a truism that “it takes a village to raise a child”. Let us as a society set an example for our children by engaging in healthy lifestyle practices. We have the power to change the burden of disease in our Nation where chronic Non-Communicable Diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality.
And so, we at the Ministry of Health, continue to encourage you at a minimum to eat a balanced diet avoiding excessive salt and sugar, engage in moderate exercise at least three times per week, avoid alcohol and smoking and engage in safe sexual practices. A recalibration of your lifestyle has the power to extend the quality and length of your life considerably.
This Government pledges to continue working closely with all members of our community to prevent and where that fails, detect and treat kidney disease. We invite you to partner with us in that regard. The kidneys you save might well be your own.
I wish you a happy and healthy World Kidney Day. May God bless you and the island of Nevis.