While vaccination against tcovid19 is an important part of preserving one's health, Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly says focus should also be placed on improving health through lifestyle changes.
She was speaking at the launch of the second phase of the Act Now health campaign for schoolchildren at the Ministry of Education St Vincent Street, Port of Spain, on Friday morning.Dr Gadsby-Dolly stressed that while public health restrictions have been relaxed to allow in-person classes, covid19 was still present.
She said the best defence against the virus was vaccination, and while there might be differences in opinion on whether children should be vaccinated, she called on parents to give their children the best opportunity at survival through vaccination.
"I think we can all agree on one thing, and that is, our children need to be raised in a healthy way so that they can be protected against whatever comes in the future for them. So the fact that we can all agree on that gives us a common basis for this Act Now campaign."
Gadsby-Dolly added that the covid19 pandemic exposed the importance of maintaining personal health, as the most vulnerable were usually people who had poor health.
She also said encouraging proper eating habits and physical activity among children would go a long way towards building the resilience of future generations.
"Our lifestyles are not the same. We do much more. More mothers in our homes who were the ones who would carefully guard diet – we are now busy, we are now active, and our children therefore may not have the benefit of that level of time, care and effort being put into what we eat, what we do.
"Our children's lifestyles have also become more sedentary – the games especially during the covid19 pandemic.
"We have to consider that vaccinations are not the only thing and we have to pay attention to everything else that is important for our children. So that is why we are so grateful to US Aid for supporting this campaign and allowing us to focus on the fact that we must live a healthier lifestyles, not just for ourselves but also for our children. The next generation must be more educated about how they deal with their health."
The campaign is the result of a joint partnership between US Aid and Unicef.
Gadsby-Dolly thanked all collaborators for their work and said their participation helped bring attention to the campaign and widened the scope from vaccination to general health.
Deputy chief of mission from the US Embassy Megan Kelly thanked the ministry for its efforts to promote healthier lifestyles among children.
Referring to the success of the first phase of the Act Now campaign last year, Kelly praised the ministry for itswork in pushing messages for vaccination.
"The phase two of the Act Now campaign highlights vaccination as a component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and this will help students and adults recognise that now more than ever, being vaccinated is just as important as eating, exercising and socialising with friends and family.
"Growing up in the post-pandemic world, to be healthy you have to be vaccinated.
"Fighting covid is a marathon, you cannot relax, and we have so far to go."