With chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension accounting for the majority of deaths in Barbados, medical professionals have labelled the island as being in a state of crisis.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George says it is estimated that by 2030, 87 per cent of all deaths in Barbados will be caused by a NCD.
George was delivering the opening address at the Barbados National Registry’s 10th anniversary extravaganza when he disclosed that on average, 18 000 to 20 000 Barbadians were being treated at the nine polyclinics across the island for hypertension.
He also revealed that the 2016 annual report from the Barbados National Registry indicated that almost 75 per cent of acute myocardial infraction patients have hypertension and 27 per cent of the patients were obese.
“The ministry is aware of Barbados’ changing health profile, hence the need for emphasis to be placed on prevention, management, and control of NCDs. Evidently, these lifestyle related disorders have replaced communicable diseases as the primary cause of disability and death. This situation has given us a national health profile which is comparable to that of many developed country,” said the CMO.
“Within this context, the impetus is for us to robustly work with our stakeholders to support existing policies aimed at promoting health and wellness,” he added.
George divulged that the National Taskforce on Wellness and the National NCD Commission were currently developing a strategic plan to guide national intervention over the next five years.
“Our efforts, no doubt will translate into a healthier population and with it concomitant savings in the health care sector,” he went on to say.
Professor Sir Trevor Hassell also contended that policy changes and developments were needed to create a healthier nation. The president of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition identified the health issues persisted due to “the absence of appropriate policies and legislation” within the health care sector, and insufficient contributions from the private sector to promote healthier living. He stressed that the philosophy of healthy living had to be started with the creation of healthy school environments.
“I cannot stress too heavily the need for healthy school environments in Barbados, achieved by prevention of ambush marketing to school children and banning sale of sugar sweetened beverages and unhealthy fast foods on and near to school premises,” Hassell said.
“The time has come for the Barbados food and beverage industry to reformulate their unhealthy food offerings; discontinue their increasing practice of promotion and advertising by and to children of unhealthy foods and support the government as it puts in place strong policies and legislation to regulate the food environment.” (KK)