April 9, 2010
Health and personal responsibility


On Wednesday of this week Vincentians joined the rest of the world in observing World Health Day. The Ministry of Health and the Environment must be congratulated for its initiative to organize activities focusing on the importance of health and exercise.{{more}}

It is particularly encouraging that the ministry has stressed that Wednesday’s activities must not be seen as a one-off venture but rather as a springboard to encourage citizens to make this care and concern about health issues a permanent part of their lives.

The health of the nation and its citizens must always be a priority, irrespective of the attitude of any administration to it. Whatever our concerns about the tone or even the sincerity of any public health initiative, we cannot escape our own personal and collective responsibilities in this regard.

Yes, health care is about hospitals, clinics, ambulances, drugs and medical care, but responsibility at a personal level is also key.

Over the Easter weekend, there was another unfortunate incident of death by drowning at a popular beach site. It has become an established pattern that there are such occurrences regularly as citizens take to holiday recreation.

Immediately, questions are asked, quite appropriately too, about the presence of lifeguards as a precautionary measure at such recreational sites. Much effort has been made to do some splendid work to upgrade the quality of our recreational sites, both as a source of public enjoyment as well as to enhance our tourism product. Having taken this positive step, we now ought to focus on safety measures at these sites. Once again though, the issue of personal responsibility is involved, for both the physical upgrade and the provision of safety measures have costs attached. Are we prepared to pay for these necessary services? And even when they are provided, do we observe the recommended safety practices?

It is no secret that particularly at beach picnics there is far too much irresponsibility displayed. Some persons seem to view the occasion as one where absolute recklessness and gay abandon should prevail, often endangering not just themselves, but others in the process too. In addition, there is woeful environmental irresponsibility as well, a complete disregard for the environment, whether in the form of littering or destruction of the facilities or the flora and fauna. Clearly a massive education campaign is needed in this regard.

The same can be said for vehicular accidents, with many seeming to occur on long holiday weekends. Too many fatalities occur which could have been avoided if only had a degree of personal responsibility been observed. It is a theme which must be hammered home again and again.

We each must take responsibility for our own health, safety and wellbeing.