Children’s Health and Wellness Must be Priority

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Jamaica News: The 2018/19 academic year is slated to begin in a few days, and amidst the rush to ensure students have all the physical necessities, the importance of health and wellness must not be forgotten.

It is imperative that this remain on the priority list for the back-to-school period, and parents must ensure that the children get a proper check-up before the school year commences.

In an interview with JIS News, Senior Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (Region 4), Cecilia Jackson, says it is important for all children going back to school to be immunised.

“The children must be properly immunised. If students are not immunised, they are referred to a clinic. They have to show the (immunisation) card,” she tells JIS News.

Parish Health, Promotion and Education Officer at the St. James Public Health Services, Julian Grandison Mullings, also underscores the importance of doing the prescribed annual medical before going back to school.

“We advise parents to ensure that they do annual checks. Don’t wait until something abnormal pops up. They should use it as an opportunity, not just to give the school a report but for them as parents to be abreast of anything that may be developing,” she says.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Grandison Mullings is advising parents of toddlers going to school for the first time to be mindful of the new surroundings, as certain interactions may cause ailments, “and so the necessary precautions should be taken to ensure the child’s health remains intact”.

She is also urging parents to, as much as possible, “give their children healthy snacks” to take to school, “and encourage them to eat fruits rather than the salty snacks, and reduce the amount of juice and increase the amount of water you give them”.

With the recent announcement of the Government’s nutrition policy to be rolled out in January 2019, doctors such as Tridents Medical’s resident family physician, Dr. Douglas Street, are also asking parents to cut down on the unhealthy snacks and drinks that they give to their children.

“As the Minister of Health has been recommending, definitely you want to be cutting down on the amount of sugars that the children have in their diet. I would also recommend that they cut down on processed foods, such as sausage and frankfurters, and a lot of the processed snacks as well, as they contain a lot of preservatives and colourings which are not good for their health,” he tells JIS News.

“When you are giving snacks to kids it’s best to let them have fruits instead of juice. It’s okay to blend the fruits, but the children must get everything, it must not be strained,” he points out.

Dr. Street is also warning parents to be careful of drink products that claim to be 100 per cent juice, as they too have dangerously high sugar content and may cause hyperactivity and lack of focus in young children.

In the meanwhile, he says that deworming of children, which is commonplace during the back-to-school period, should only be done as necessary and should not be a frequent occurrence.

Dr. Street is also encouraging parents to ensure that their children spend enough time doing physical activities.

“We should limit the time that children spend on devices and encourage them to play outside, as it improves their physical and mental fitness. Children who spend a lot of time on tablets tend to have on more weight and tend to have more problems later on,” he says.

Stress management for parents is also very important, especially at this time of the year. According to Dr. Street, the best way to prevent stress is to plan ahead.

“One of the most important things that anybody should do to reduce stress is to be proactive, so you try to plan ahead and, as much as possible, put things in place from beforehand, so when that time comes you know you can execute,” he adds.


Source: JIS News

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