A NATIONAL food and nutrition policy is coming, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh revealed on Wednesday after a diabetic retinopathy screening service ceremony at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital.
Saying the policy is in its final stages, Deyalsingh said it is not just aimed at getting patients to take better care of themselves but will also encourage food and drink manufacturers “to take some responsibility” for the content of their products.
Through moral suasion, he said, many of the country’s juice and soft-drink manufacturers have been voluntarily reducing sugar content in the many of their offerings.
He added that consultations with the public and the ministry would determine the food content in the National School Feeding Programme.
Deyalsingh also said the ministry has taken the body mass indices of 3,500 children and that data is now being analysed. “That will tell us the state of health of our children,” he said. There are approximately 1.5 million interactions at the country’s hospitals and health centres annually, he said, which meant one person could be visiting a health facility for treatment three or four times a year.
Deyalsingh said many of these visits have to do with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, which is now the third major cause of deaths in TT.
This underscores the reality that diabetes is “a ticking time bomb that has exploded.”
Talks are ongoing between Government, the University of the West Indies and Interhealth Canada about the Couva Children’s and Adult Hospital, Deyalsingh said. The Prime Minister has said it will be an offshore hospital.
Deyalsingh also said work on the Point Fortin, Port of Spain and Arima hospitals is on track, and estimated the work at Port of Spain and Arima should be finished in the second quarter of 2019, barring any unforeseen circumstances.