Action Required By All To Fight NCDs

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With too many Barbadians considered diabetic and hypertensive, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Joy St. John, is calling for action by all.

This appeal came recently as she reported on core findings of the Barbados Health of the Nation (HotN) Survey, during the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Workplace Wellness Programme Workshop at its Culloden Road, St. Michael Headquarters.

???We have to reduce NCDs [non-communicable diseases] for the whole population and improve our detection of hypertension and diabetes.

“We have to improve treatment so we don???t have people ending up in an awful state in the QEH [Queen Elizabeth Hospital]. We have to monitor and evaluate if what we are doing is efficient and relevant,??? the health official said.

Dr. St. John highlighted the concerns of the Ministry of Health as including tobacco smoking, excess alcohol intake in men, low levels of physical inactivity, poor intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, and high rates of overweight and obesity, which together were affecting the vast majority of the adult population.

???These in turn feed into high rates of diabetes, hypertension, unhealthy cholesterol levels and contribute to the high risk of cardiovascular disease,??? she pointed out.

The HotN study, undertaken by the Chronic Disease Research Centre and Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI Cave Hill Campus, noted that 41 per cent of adults over 25 years old were hypertensive; 19 per cent had diabetes; 53 per cent had the right levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, though this was still deemed to ???be not good enough???.

With respect to behaviour risk factors, Dr. St. John contended that Barbados was lucky to have low rates of smoking, nine per cent, but still this was of concern.??It was also revealed that 90 per cent of those surveyed took less than five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and 12 per cent of persons still added salt at the table and in their cooking via salt-laden condiments.

Troubled by the fact that only half of those surveyed took part in 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, the top health official stressed that women were the main offenders, with 67 per cent not exercising enough, while only 30 per cent of men were not. As for obesity, the CMO said overall 34 per cent of persons over 25 years old were obese; 23 per cent of men and 43 per cent women.

In concluding, Dr. St. John noted that addressing issues contained in the study required action by all of government, civil society and the private sector to reduce risk throughout the population. She added too that in some instances, particularly the use of salt, Government needed to come in to encourage private sector to show their corporate responsibility.

???We have to improve our detection of hypertension and diabetes; improve the identification of people with diabetes and hypertension; and the delivery of their care for the control of blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose,??? the CMO stated.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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