National Physical Activity Specialist (Contract)


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines physical activity as “any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure”.  This suggests that the term ‘physical activity’ is more than ‘exercise’.  According to the WHO (2013), exercise, is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposeful.  Physical activity therefore includes exercise as well as other activities that are done as part of working, active transportation, house chores and recreational activities. 

Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally.  Physical inactivity, along with other health risk factors (e.g. unhealthy diet, tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, hypertension, obesity, and hypercholesterolemia) is becoming increasingly prevalent in developing countries faced with urbanization and globalization.  It is recognized that the promotion of physical activity initiatives is paramount to the reduction of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), particularly, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some types of cancers and other health risk factors.

According to Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030, globally, physical inactivity was estimated to cost (USD) 54 billion in direct health care, in 2013, of which 57% is incurred by the public sector and an additional 14 billion was attributable to lost productivity.  Worldwide, 23% of adults and 81% of adolescents (aged 11–17 years) do not meet the WHO global recommendations on physical activity for health.

The Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey III (2016-2017) shows that eighty-two percent (82%) of Jamaicans are engaged in low level physical activity, sixteen percent (16%) are engaged in moderate activity while only two percent (2%) are doing high level physical activity. The findings of the survey further reveals that within the last year, fifty-two (52%) of the Jamaican population made no attempt to increase their level of activity.  

The current levels of physical inactivity are partly due to insufficient participation in physical activity during leisure time and an increase in sedentary behaviour during occupational and domestic activities.  Likewise, an increase in the use of ‘passive’ modes of transport has also been associated with declining physical activity levels. 

Globalization and urbanization in Jamaica have not only contributed to the decline in physical activity but also introduced a culture for eating out and increased consumption of street foods. Approximately eight percent (8%) of Jamaicans report consuming fast food once or more per day whilst vegetables and fruits are consumed twice a day or more by only thirty-eight percent (38%)  and twenty-six percent (26%) of Jamaicans respectively. 

The prevalence of obesity in adolescents 13-15 years increased by 68% and doubled in boys over the past seven years. Overweight increased by 29% mainly due to an increase in overweight in boys. Obesity levels in boys surpass girls and the rate of increase of obesity/overweight is higher than in girls.  Research in Jamaica tracking body mass index at 7 – 8 years and then at 11 – 12 years revealed obesity rates for study participants increased from 3.5% to 9.5% representing an increase of 171%. This is in keeping with the trend world-wide in similar middle-income countries.

One in two persons in Jamaica in the 15 to 75 years old age range is overweight or obese.

Designing physical activity programmes that encourage individuals to engage in physical activity during routine activities is a best practice that has worked as one component of a strategy to increase physical activity.  These best practices as documented in countries such as United States of America, Singapore, China, Brazil, Slovenia and South Africa, utilized fitness experts and trainers to develop structured age and condition appropriate programmes.  These programmes are conducted in the various settings: workplace, communities and school. 



  • To increase participation in physical activity in the different settings (schools, workplaces and community).


Main Objective:

  • To support the National Physical Activity Programme by having a Physical Activity Specialist assigned at the national level that will:
  1. Assist in the development of policy/guidelines for the promotion of increased physical activity
  2. Create standardized approaches to promoting physical activity to targeted groups
  3. Assist with meeting the increasing demand for capacity building in physical activity
  4. Provide technical guidance to internal and external stakeholders on physical activity in the context of wellness
  5. Assist with the development of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials for Physical Activity and identification of equipment for promotion in different settings



Scope of Work

  • The National Physical Activity Specialist will be expected to:
    • Assist with the development of policy/guidelines for the promotion of population wide physical activity
    • Collaborate with Regional Physical Activity Specialists and assist with the development of their physical activity programmes
    • Partner with key stakeholders to aid in the promotion of increased physical activity in schools, workplaces and communities
    • Facilitate approved requests from schools, workplaces and community to do physical activity interventions
    • Coordinate the implementation of National Physical Activity Commemorative Days
    • Develop and implement capacity building sessions for relevant stakeholders in schools, communities and workplaces based on needs assessments
    • Develop Information Education Communication materials that support promotion of physical activity to targeted groups
    • Identify and submit proposals for appropriate equipment that will support National and Regional programmes
    • Provide technical guidance to internal and external stakeholders
    • Formulate strategies that motivate individuals to increase participation in physical activity
    • Develop a Physical Activity Programme for the staff of the Ministry of Health and Wellness at the national level
    • Develop a monitoring and evaluation system for the physical activity programme


Key Deliverables

The specific deliverables of the Physical Activity Specialist include the following:

  • Document submission towards policy/guidelines for the promotion of population wide physical activity
  • Technical guidance provided to Regional Physical Activity Specialists and HPE Teams with the development of their physical activity programmes
  • National Physical Activity Commemorative Days implemented
  • Implementation of Capacity Building Sessions for selected target groups
  • Established mechanism of working closely with Regional Physical Activity Specialists, Health Promotion and Education Team and key stakeholders on Physical Activity deliverables in school, workplace and community programme
  • Resource materials developed for target population
  • Equipment identified and proposed for target population
  • Consultations with key stakeholders conducted
  • A Monitoring and Evaluation system developed for the physical activity programme
  • Reports on the specific physical activity programmes submitted
  • Monthly reports
  • Annual report


Contract Period

The service will be an initial 2 year period



The consultant must possess:

  • A Master’s Degree from a recognized tertiary institution offering preparation in exercise science and a minimum of three (3) years’ experience or a Bachelor Degree and a minimum of six (6) years working experience in exercise science with knowledge of research and planning or Diploma in Exercise Science and a minimum of ten (10) years working experience in the area with knowledge of research and planning
  • Knowledge of health related (Non-Communicable Disease) issues
  • Have a valid taxpayer registration number (TRN)
  • Must be able to travel across the island



The consultant will be paid a monthly salary according to government policy

The sum of:

  • Basic Salary: $1,824,000.00 per annum
  • Travelling Allowance: $894,924.00 per annum (with motor vehicle)


Reporting Relationship

The consultant will report to the National Physical Activity Coordinator at the Ministry of Health and Wellness


Applications with résumés are to be submitted no later than Thursday, November 25, 2021 to:

Human Resource Management & Development
Ministry of Health & Wellness
Kingston 10


The Ministry of Health thanks all applicants for their interest; however, please note that only short-listed candidates will be contacted.