One of the major medical health issues in Barbados is hypertension.
In fact, Sir Trevor Hassell, president of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, said hypertension and uncontrolled hypertension contributed to approximately 45 per cent of all cases of heart diseases here.
Sir Trevor made the comments during a ceremony today to unveil the mural Physicus: The Art Of Healthy Living at the Chronic Disease Research Centre (CDRC). The mural was painted by artist Don Small.
Saying that high salt intake was a major contributor to hypertension, Sir Trevor said the challenge was for residents to lower their salt intake and grow more of what they eat.
Despite the grim revelation however, Sir Trevor said he believed there was significant interest in tackling chronic diseases on the island.
“We in Barbados continue to experience what I would refer to as an upsurge of interest in chronic diseases. I am almost minded to say that we have reached a tipping point around chronic disease, but perhaps I am being too optimistic. But the reason I say there has been this significant upsurge is the fact that over the past few days there have been major commitments locally to tackling NCD, and to the realization that the successful tackling of these diseases require a multi-sector approach,” he said.
He said the recently held faith-based collaboration to counteract chronic diseases was a success, adding that all the church leaders supported the declaration of Bridgetown, which outlines measures aimed at developing and implementing a variety of programmes to educate and train members in healthy lifestyle practices.
Meanwhile, in her remarks Acting Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Ferdinand said the result of the extensive Health Of The Nation Study 2013, which was conducted by the Ministry of Health and the CDRC, would be released soon.
Though staying clear of divulging any of the results, Ferdinand said the study gave the current risk factor profile of NCDs in Barbados and also contained information on things such as pattern of smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and diet.
Acting director of the CDRC, Professor Clive Landis said the CDRC was currently conducting a surveillance called the Barbados National Registry of Non-Communicable Diseases.
“It is very important because it is not a project; it is ongoing surveillance into all strokes, all heart attacks and all cancers happening in the country. It allows the CDRC not just to publish in the international literature but to communicate with the ministry of health and to guide policy,” said Landis.
He said the Health Of The Nation Study was to, among other things, determine how healthy the population was.
“It is the first time we have conducted research like this and it will immediately inform health planners [about] what areas we need to work on,” added Landis.
He said the study showed that “we have discovered a high level of diabetes, whether it is diagnose or undiagnosed. So this will all be published”.
Landis added that the CDRC would be communicating more with the public.