May 21, 2004
Ministry of Health holds national

Moves toward the formulation of a Health and Family Life Education Policy are well on the way. This follows the hosting of a national consultation on the subject at the Kingstown Methodist Church Hall last Thursday, May 13.
The Agency for Public Information reports that the final policy is to be implemented as a human resources programme with the potential to develop and make our citizenry productive, helping individuals to realise their fullest potential and to move the country forward.{{more}}
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chief Medical Officer Dr. St. Clair Thomas said there’s a lot of ignorance about various health issues in the society.
He said that as a result of sexual ignorance, about 20 per cent of all babies born each year were to teenagers.
Dr. Thomas said the values in the society, drug abuse, mental illness, low self-esteem in some areas, lifestyle diseases, particularly diabetes and hypertension all have a bearing on what children learn and develop in their early ages. This programme, he said, would help to educate the public and to correct any misinformation on health issues.
Spaking at the event, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Mike Browne said the subject of health and family life education commits the ministry to working with the family; therefore, it is important to create a partnership in education, and the role of the PTA and the wider community as support mechanism is vital to the success of the programme.
Minister Browne said it is not by accident that the Ministry of Education is the lead ministry in this component of the educational and national agenda. But it is a reflection of commitments, reaffirmed and reiterated over the years at the highest level of the political directorate.
He recalled that in 1994 a resolution by the Caricom Standing Committee of Ministers of Health and Education supported the development of a comprehensive approach to health and family life education by Caricom and the University of the West Indies. This gave rise to the Caricom Multi-Agency Health and Family Life Education Project, which includes the development of a policy.
The Minister said that at a recent meeting in 2003, a proposal was made that a core of subjects be taught at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Those subjects, as suggested by the Curriculum Unit, are English, mathematics, science and health and family life education.
Browne said there is also a core of foundation subjects including social studies and information technology. These subjects, he said, are not considered necessary to be done up to the end of secondary level, but up to form three.
He, however, admitted that the difficulty in implementing these foundation subjects is the existing limited school hours that may have to be extended in the July-August period.