The Ministry of Health and Social Development is partnering with the United States-based Lifestyle Medicine Institute to encourage Virgin Islands residents to take their health into their own hands to prevent chronic disease.

Institute founder Dr. Hans Diehl, a professor of preventive medicine at Loma Linda University’s School of Medicine in California, visited the VI from Monday to Wednesday to introduce the Complete Health Improvement Program to stakeholders.

CHIP encourages patients with diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, excess weight, and heart disease to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes with very little animal products and processed food.

It also works with community stakeholders like restaurants, schools and churches to help promote healthy lifestyle choices.

“We begin to realise today more and more that people that are well instructed, people that are well motivated, can do more for their health in terms of dealing with these chronic diseases than any physician, any hospital, any medication, any procedure,” Dr. Diehl explained at a press conference on Monday.

In response to a question about how the programme factors in the high prices of fruits and vegetables at VI grocery stores, Health and Social Development Carvin Malone Minister said that as those products become more readily available the prices will naturally be pushed downward.

Ivy George, the ministry’s coordinator for health promotions services, told the Beacon on Monday that it was not yet possible to estimate the cost of implementing the programme in the VI.