PAHO, UNICEF, and the Ministry of Health have combined forces in an effort to identify health gaps in children which may contribute to chronic diseases and affect their learning abilities in the future.
Saint Lucia is currently the 6th Caribbean country to partake in a regional study referred to as (CRUISE) Caribbean Island Urinary Iodine and Salt Survey. The study which involves children in the age range of 6-12, focuses primarily on sodium and Iodine levels in their urine. District Medical Officer and NCD Focal Point, Dr. Sharon Cyr-Philbert, said high sodium levels and low Iodine levels can lead to many complications especially chronic disease.
Medicine Professor from Switzerland, Michael Zimmermann believes it is important to practice proper eating habits from a tender age.
“Food habits are learned early in life, so if a child 6-12 years of age is eating a high salt diet that’s something that they will continue to do for the rest of their life and of course that can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. So the Ministry of Health would like to get an idea of how much salt the children are eating or what are the main sources of salt in order to develop a program to try to reduce salt intake at this young age and hopefully that will establish healthy life long habits”.
The Urine samples will be taken to a lab in Switzerland for testing. The results will be sent to Ministry of Health within two months where necessary policies and actions will be implemented to address them.