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Preventing chronic diseases

An estimated 60,000 Barbadians are said to be living with at least one chronic disease.

Furthermore, statistics suggest that approximately seven out of every ten deaths among Barbadians each year are attributed to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), say officials.

And this is not sitting well with faith-based organizations across the island.

For that reason, a number of those organizations have joined forces with the National NCD Commission, the Healthy Caribbean Coalition along with the Ministry of Health in order to devise a community-based prevention programme for the island.

The groups came together today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre as they started consultations on the topic. The one-day discussion was held under the theme A Faith-Based Collaboration To Counteract Chronic Diseases.

In his welcome, professor Sir Trevor Hassell, chairman of the National NCD Commission, described NCDs as “one of the major health and developmental issues of our time”, adding that: “the chronic disease or the NCD epidemic [is] an epidemic that accounts for the death of seven out of every ten Barbadians”.

“That is the reality,” he said. “It also results in significant sickness and disability. This group of diseases consumes about 60 per cent or more of our health budget,” added Sir Trevor.

In his remarks Minister of Health John Boyce said Government was aware of the epidemic facing the island, pledging that his Ministry would continue to help in the fight against NCDs.

He said while it was acknowledged that progress has been made in the fight against the deadly set of diseases “much more work needs to be done”.

“This is clearly a time for action; a time for all of us . . . to commit our resources and skills to effectively tackle the core risk factors of NCDs,” said Boyce.

“It is estimated that there are 50,000 to 60,000 Barbadians with at least one chronic disease. This amazing statistic will impact negatively on productivity and economic wellbeing for generations to come if left unchecked,” added Boyce.

Sir Trevor, who is also president of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, said following Wednesday’s discussion among the faith-based organization on the role each of them could play in “slowing the epidemic” a resolution would be adopted.

“A comprehensive report of this consultation together with the declaration will be presented to the heads of governments of CARICOM for their information as an indication of the seriousness of purpose of this group gathered here today,” he said.

“Additionally, a report of the consultation and the declaration will be shared with the wider Caribbean faith-based community for use as a possible template and best practice example in the area of faith-based response to NCDs in other Caribbean countries,” he added.

Over the years a number of organizations including the BCCI and the Barbados Employers’ Confederation have expressed concern over the high incidence of NCD and have started a number of programmes to try and combat   the chronic diseases. (MM)

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