While Government will continue to aggressively pursue policy options and programmes to combat non-communicable diseases, Barbadian citizens have a responsibility to adopt healthy lifestyle practices which will help protect them against NCDs.
Speaking at a Press briefing last Friday after he was presented with a copy of the Health of the Nation Study commissioned by his Ministry, Health Minister John Boyce said that every Barbadian should take seriously the picture of themselves that was presented in the study.
According to the findings, Barbados has some of the highest rates of NCDs in the Americas, with one in five adults aged 25 and over being diabetic, over one in three being hypertensive and one in two having raised cholesterol.
In addition, three out of four women and two out of three men are overweight or obese. Nine out of 10 adults do not eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables and one in four men binge drink alcohol, the study revealed.
The Health Minister urged Barbadians to take this opportunity to begin the necessary lifestyle changes.?????If you need to exercise more to lose weight, do it. If you need to change the way you eat, use less sugar, salt and fat. And if you need to take an alcohol beverage, do so with extreme moderation. The future of our country and its children are in our hands.???
Mr. Boyce noted that the risk factors identified in the study, particularly when working together, contributed to the burden of stroke, heart attack and cancers, which were leading causes of sickness and premature death.
???The impact of chronic disease has the potential to set back our national development and our capacity to achieve many of our developmental goals. Additionally, treatment of the diseases and their long-term complications resulted in high health care cost, particularly at the tertiary level,??? he said.
The Minister disclosed that his Ministry was using multi-sectoral approaches to support national solutions. Some solutions already being implemented were the tax on sugar sweetened beverages; the development of a plan to address childhood obesity and cancer; and the revision of the food basket for healthy and affordable foods.
He identified the National Strategic Plan for NCDs 2015 ??? 2019 as another mechanism for engaging a wide cross-section of agencies from civil society and the private sector in order to include their particular resources and skills to address the epidemic.??The Health of the Nation Study was undertaken by the Chronic Disease Research Centre and the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Cave Hill Campus, University of the West Indies.