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August 4, 2014
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Ferguson to discuss children's exposure to alcoholic beverages

Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson says he will be moving to have discussions with the alcohol industry as he is concerned about the level of advertising and other means of exposure of the products to children.

Dr Ferguson was speaking during the dedication ceremony last Wednesday for a new mammography machine acquired by the Jamaica Cancer Society in partnership with the National Health Fund, the Supreme Ventures Foundation and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica.

"I want to have discussions with the players in the alcohol industry to see how best we can see a convergence of our objectives. My concerns particularly relate to the level of exposure of the products to children. I do not intend to put forward any kind of draconian legislation. I recognise that the alcohol industry is a business, but I am still saying let us protect our children," he said.

The health minister said alcohol reduction is a part of the ministry's risk management approach to reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases. In keeping with this, he says he has already met with representatives from the food industry, critical players from the private sector and academia, with respect to nutrition.

Meanwhile, Dr Ferguson says the new mammography machine acquired by the Jamaica Cancer Society will increase the capacity of the agency to do breast cancer screenings.

The Jamaica Cancer Society has been able to accommodate screening for more than 37,000 women islandwide in the last five years. The mammography unit was purchased at a cost of $16 million.

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