Chairman of the NDP, Daniel Cummings. (iWN file photo)

An opposition lawmaker is urging the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to eat towards a healthy body.

Daniel Cummings, noting that some of his colleagues do not have a healthy body weight, urged them to set an example in this regard.

Cummings, who is the opposition spokesperson on health issues, said on NICE Radio on Tuesday that SVG needs to look at healthcare beyond the need for dialysis and medication for diabetes and hypertension.

“I have been preaching from day one; look at healthcare at the source. Let us look at preventing people from developing sugar (diabetes) and pressure (hypertension) to the level that they are developing strokes and all the attendant expensive ailments that come from that. There are things that we can do.”

The lawmaker said that SVG is blessed with some of the finest soils and produces a lot of fruits and vegetables that promote a healthy body.

He called on the nation to eat its way to healthy lives.

“But there has got to be the incentives. There has got to be the indoctrination. We’ve got to start with the babies; we have got to start with the kindergarteners, we have got to start with the primary schools — encouraging the children to eat sensible, to eat more of our fruits and vegetables, to cut out the sodas, and feed them on a daily basis with our natural fruit juices.”

The opposition lawmaker said that the healthcare system must look not just at putting more and more monies into medicines.

“That is not sustainable. Yes, we have to treat those who are, unfortunately, already badly affected. We have to do what we can, but we must make sure we bring up a generation who understands what it is to eat well, exercise well, and prevent the common non-communicable diseases that are afflicting so many of us.”

Cummings said that the level of obesity in schools is “tremendous”.

“It is too high. Let me be very plain and simple on this. When you look at [Opposition Leader] Dr. [Godwin] Friday and you look at the man who calls himself prime minister, you see the contrasting picture. A man who is fit, who walks and works assiduously for and on behalf of the people as opposed to another one … who is grossly overweight…”

Cummings, as quickly, turned his critical eyes to his colleagues, saying:

“Having said that, there are some of my colleagues who are not as fit as they are to be and I am challenging them every day. Fortunately, I am seeing a number of them taking up the challenge vigorously, controlling their diet and doing the required exercise. But this is something one has got to practice. It is a lifestyle.

“I want all of my colleagues to be standing up as beacons, as examples to our people. We must not just talk, we must walk the talk. And I am very proud of the efforts being made by colleagues to demonstrate, by their own actions, the importance of being physically fit, of eating well and exercising well, because health care, we keep saying, is not just about buying medicine and hospitalising people. It’s about preventative medicine; it’s about urging people to do the right things; keeping healthy minds.”

Cummings said that employment is important to healthcare as it reduces stress.

“There are far too many people carrying around ton load of stress wondering how they are going to find money to pay the fees to send their children to do the CXCs and other exams. That is one of the reasons why NDP pledges as a government we will pay the fees to take the stress off the parent.  Stress is not a good thing,” he said, adding that too many families wake up without a single member employed.

“An NDP government will put an end to that. There must be a minimum of one person in every household who is gainfully employed,” Cummings said.