|Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner (FP)|
Approximately 40 per cent of the deaths recorded in Barbados are as a result of bad habits such as smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse and poor diet.
And, to make matters worse, Barbados ranks third among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest mortality rates, attributable to chronic non-communicable diseases.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, made the disclosure this morning at a health fair at Manor Lodge, Green Hill, St. Michael, organised by the Lions and Leos of Zone 3A Barbados, in recognition of World Health Day, which was observed last Saturday.
The Senator told those in attendance that the ranking had profound implications for the planning and execution of health programmes. As a result, she said the Ministry of Health had shifted its focus towards addressing the risk factors – high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity which is linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and the development of some cancers.
"Certain behaviours, no matter one’s age, are risk factors for the nation’s leading causes of death. By age 75, about one in three men and one in two women only engage in low levels of physical activity. Being physically active helps control weight; contributes to healthy bones; muscles and joints; reduces the pain of arthritis; reduces anxiety and depression and can decrease hospitalisations, physicians’ visits and medications," Senator Sandiford-Garner pointed out.
She quoted statistics from the Chronic Disease Research Centre, which indicated that 77 per cent of strokes and 74 per cent of amputations occur in persons 65 years and over. The research also found that 80 per cent of chronic diseases were preventable.
The Senator said the earlier healthier interventions were made, the better, and, to this end, the Ministry had sought to improve nutrition among school-aged children through the introduction of Guidelines on Healthy and Nutritious Foods in Schools.?? This was done in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the National NCD Commission.?? The Commission has also been involved in a public education campaign promoting salt reduction and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, she noted.
She also lauded the work being done by The National Task Force on Physical Activity and Exercise which seeks to promote physical activity across the country.
"In the Ministry, we have also sought to strengthen the planning of physical fitness programmes by conducting capacity-based building workshops to train members of the public to implement community-based physical activity programmes.
"We have also intensified our efforts to build a ???society for all ages’ and to promote international commitment to the United Nations Principles for Older Persons.?? These principles are founded on the need to build an inclusive society that emphasises participation, self-fulfilment, independence, care and dignity," Senator Sandiford-Garner said.