The Barbados Government could soon be embarking on new initiatives that would boost its efforts to reduce or eliminate chronic non-communicable diseases. Minister of Health John Boyce made the disclosure at a panel discussion on the subject Towards Sustainable Development of SIDS: Addressing the Threat of Non-Communicable Diseases at Hilton Barbados Resort this morning.
Boyce, who chaired the discussion, was commenting on the presentation by panellist and Minister of Health in Samoa, Tuitama Dr. Leao Talalelei Tuitama.
The Health Minister said Barbados could emulate the Samao idea of promoting healthy life styles in villages much more.
“I think one of the challenges we face in Barbados is measuring the success of these programmes. It is extremely difficult. I think, too, sir, your comments on mental health as an area… up to now, is not, as far as I’m aware that a lot of emphasis has been placed on this as an NCD and I think we need to include it. We’ve been discussing this with our team at planning in the Ministry of Health only very recently,” Boyce declared.
“We’ve also commented on the question of oral health in that, when you don’t have a full healthy set of teeth, you tend to shy away from high fibre foods and probably some of the more healthy choices. Maybe too, we can emphasise our catering, certainly in our healthy veg, to take on that look. So these are some wonderful objectives; of course the parliamentary participation in the identifying of women as leaders in these efforts too,” added the Minister of Health.
The Samoa Minister of Health told the panel discussion earlier, his country had introduced an initiative where parliamentarians as an organised group, were at the forefront of a healthy lifestyle drive with the speaker of the House of Assembly chairing one aspect and prime minister another.
In his opening remarks to the panel, Boyce noted that “NCDs, namely heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases were a major health priority for small island developing states in all regions.
“They impact countries both socially and economically, resulting in negative health outcomes, lower productivity and unsustainable financial costs to already burdened health and social systems,” the Cabinet minister asserted.
“Six Caribbean small island developing states,” he informed, “are ranked among the 10 highest prevalence rates for diabetes in the Americas. Also, it is estimated that the total cost of diabetes and hypertension alone, consumes eight per cent of GDP in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Given the unique relationship to all three dimensions of sustainable development and the multi-sectoral nature of the interventions required, addressing NCDs across the sustainable development goals is critical, particularly for small island developing states. The rising epidemic of NCDs, and the alarmingly high prevalence of their common modifiable risk factors, namely, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful consumption of alcohol, now compound the vulnerability of small island developing states,” Boyce said. (EJ)