Health and Wellness and Reduction of Spending on NCDS At Core of SKN Moves Five Years Into Programme

As the Ministry of Health prepares to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the St. Kitts and Nevis Moves (SKN Moves) Initiative, the focus remains on scaling up public engagement to promote the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. The initiative is a crucial part of the national strategy to combat Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which are the leading cause of death in the country. 

The programme was established in August, 2019.

During a press conference on 9th July, Dr. Marissa Carty, Health Promotion Unit Coordinator, emphasised the critical role of the initiative in addressing the high mortality and morbidity rates associated with NCDs which account for 80 percent of deaths in the country. The initiative aims to tackle unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity that hinder socio-economic development.

Advisor in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Patrick Martin, highlighted the significant economic burden posed by NCDs. He revealed that NCDs consume 40 to 50 cents of every dollar spent on healthcare in St. Kitts and Nevis. 

Over the past two decades, healthcare spending has doubled, driven by the overconsumption of ultra-processed foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, and a general lack of physical activity. The total public and private healthcare expenditure now stands at approximately EC$180 million.

Since its inception, SKN Moves has initiated several actions, inclusive of the Move Your Body Fitness Challenge (2019) an activity aimed at encouraging physical fitness among the public; Get Moving Challenges (2020), which highlighted health walks, a 10K run, and soca-size events to make physical activity enjoyable and accessible; and the Healthy Business Challenge, which encourages workplaces to adopt healthier practices.

These were complemented by the Annual Caribbean Wellness Week campaigns which feature regular health screenings and public education initiatives and health tours.

Future plans include the implementation of Walking Trails, a programme that aims to develop walking trails branded with healthy messages, emphasising safety and accessibility; building of stronger relationships and collaborating with local stakeholders and faith-based organisations; and the SKN Moves Ambassadors programme to inspire others to adopt healthier lifestyles.

The pillars of the SKN Moves Initiative – healthy eating, physical activity, and regular health screening – are essential to combating NCDs and improving public health in St. Kitts and Nevis. 

As the initiative celebrates its fifth anniversary, the Ministry of Health is committing to expanding its reach and impact through continued public engagement and strategic partnerships.

Photo: Health Promotion Unit Coordinator, Dr. Marissa Carty.

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