Ministers are to consider a plan to ensure the message of prevention against lifestyle diseases, reaches every Barbadian, as an epidemic of ailments especially diabetes, kills more people every year.
“After attending a United Nations High Level meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) two weeks ago, I called for the drafting of a Cabinet Paper spelling out the need for a Cabinet Sub-Committee to deal with this matter, and I plan to present it when Cabinet meets tomorrow,” Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, has declared.
Bostic made the announcement during a discussion on The Business of Health at Solidarity House this morning.
During the event staged by Pharma Wellness International in association with the Barbados Workers Union, endocrinologist Dr Carlisle Goddard revealed that among the main non-communicable diseases, namely cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, diabetes was the most deadly since “unlike cancer, which is direct, diabetes is a slow moving condition that eventually envelops the entire body.
“By the time one risk factor is identified, there are about three or four other conditions ‘waiting in the wings’.”
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes were all related, said Dr Goddard, recommending that all Barbadians over the age of 35 start getting annual blood and blood sugar tests, “since your body mass index goes up as soon as you reach that age group, which increases your risk”.
The Minister of Health noted that the Government was considering further taxing tobacco and carbonated drinks as a means of financing health care
He suggested public awareness campaigns on NCD risk factors carried out in Government departments, corporate Barbados, schools, churches and the community at large.
The Health Minister revealed that while in most countries new cases of NCDs were expected to trend downwards by 2025, Barbados would face a 15 per cent increase by that same year.
For that reason, “unlike the past where we concentrated on the patients and treatment of these diseases, we must now focus more on those who are at risk and emphasize prevention, and we need everyone on board for this campaign,” Bostic said.
Regarding vendors outside school compounds who have been accused of selling unhealthy snacks while school cafeterias have been promoting healthier meals, Bostic said, “We want to work with them, along with the Ministry of Education, parents and children and encourage them to sell healthier food items.”
Bostic, who said he wants his Ministry to focus specifically on wellness and prevention of illnesses, stated that the Government’s recently launched National Wellness Initiative “will involve representatives from the Ministries of Education, Health, Sports, Culture, Agriculture, Information and Finance, among others, and will be part of the wellness revolution I am looking forward to in Barbados.”