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Prevention cheaper than treatment, doctor warns

Chairman of the Barbados Diabetes Foundation Dr Oscar Jordan has called on Government to spend a greater part of its healthcare budget on preventive care and management of non-communicable diseases.

Dr Oscar Jordan
Dr Oscar Jordan

Dr Jordan stressed that while the island has a great healthcare system, the existing model of waiting for people
to become sick and then treating them at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has become increasingly expensive and inefficient.

He referred to a recent Central Bank of Barbados (CCB) lecture delivered by the QEH’s Chief Executive Officer
Dr Dexter James in February, who reported at the time that 75 per cent of all heart attacks, 70 per cent of strokes, 75 per cent of people who develop kidney failure and require dialysis, and all amputations carried out at the hospital, were diabetes related.

Additionally, he said that two years ago an audit showed that almost 43 per cent of QEH admissions were diabetes-related, resulting in end-stage diseases and deaths.

He recalled that about 20 years ago, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recommended that the way to deal with chronic diseases was through focusing on prevention and management in a multidisciplinary team-based approach.

“The Government made tentative steps to approving that, but tentative is the underlined word. At present we spend
96 per cent of our health cost not on prevention but on treatment,” he said at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Workplace Wellness Programme.

The DEF chairman argued that emphasis on preventive care was a less expensive approach, and would in turn decrease the country’s healthcare bill.

“Diabetes and most chronic diseases are progressive disorders and they tend to get worse, and despite the best treatment they will develop complications.

“Government has a responsibility to look at the whole question of allocation of funds. You can’t be throwing $200 million a year at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and getting those results. It does not make any sense, economic
or otherwise,” Dr Jordan said. 

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