MINISTER OF HEALTH John Boyce has disclosed that chronic diseases now account for 80 per cent of total deaths in Barbados. Additionally, one quarter of adult Barbadians have a chronic non-communicable disease and this statistic is expected to rise to one third by 2030.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the Imamia Medics International (IMI) 7th International Conference at the Hilton Barbados last weekend, the Health Minister explained that given the current health profile of Barbadians, the Ministry had redirected its focus to the promotion of healthy lifestyles with a view to decreasing risk factors for chronic diseases.
“The application of a health promotion framework involved not only individuals, but also communities, social institutions and the public and private sectors. The objective is to include everyone in the process of taking action to improve and maintain physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing,” Boyce said.
He maintained that the Ministry’s focus was not only on disease prevention and treatment but also on the determinants that contribute to the overall health of the population. Hence the establishment of agencies such as the National Non-Communicable Diseases Commission and the National Registry launched in 2009 to document information related to heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
Priority was being given, Boyce said, to capacity building in diabetes education through the training of members of the diabetes care team in polyclinics. The Ministry has also partnered with agencies such as the Barbados Diabetes Association, the Diabetes Foundation and the Maria Holder Memorial Trust to provide diabetes services.
Two specialist centres have been opened at Beckles Road and Warrens, St Michael, to allow for specialist interventions for newly diagnosed diabetics and those with reversible complications. In addition to these centres, the Ministry has also contracted the Heart and Stroke Foundation to provide rehabilitation for persons with strokes and heart attacks.
The Health Minister said the Ministry of Health supported the assertion by the World Health Organisation that 80 per cent of non-communicable diseases were preventable using simple lifestyle interventions linked to behavioural change.
As a result, its aim was to combat the ill-effects of these diseases through the promotion of better nutrition and physical activity, the avoidance of tobacco consumption and a reduction in alcohol consumption. (BGIS)