An estimated 50,000 Barbadians currently have at least one non-communicable disease (NCD). Additionally, an estimated 25,000 people are at immediate risk of developing one of these illnesses.

Minister of Health, John Boyce, speaking at the launch of the Workplace Wellness Programme by Pharma Wellness International Inc. at the Maria Holder Diabetes Centre at Warrens this morning, noted that NCDs were no longer confined to persons over 60 years.

???Younger adults across the labour force are reporting cases of non-communicable disease more and more frequently. Furthermore, the Global School Health Survey 2012 indicated that many of the risk factors for NCDs, including exposure to alcohol, tobacco and childhood obesity, are occurring in the school-aged population,??? the Health Minister revealed.

Mr. Boyce announced that the Ministry of Health was working closely with the Centre for Disease Control, the University of the West Indies and the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, to roll out the Global Standardised Hypertension Treatment Project which had multiple pillars.

These include the use of protocols in the management of hypertension; training of primary health care professional in hypertension management; the creation of hypertension registries; and the rational use of anti-hypertensive medicines.

This project, he said, had the potential to change the management of hypertension in primary care, ultimately leading to reduced incidence of stroke and heart attack.

The Ministry has also partnered with the Diabetes Foundation of Barbados to provide holistic services to public patients with diabetes who meet specific criteria at the Maria Holder Diabetes Centre. Mr. Boyce said that the Foundation will provide screening, podiatry treatment, nutrition counselling and psychological support.

In addition, the Ministry of Health will continue to work with the University of the West Indies to have its protocols for the management of diabetes in primary care updated and operational, he said.

The Minister stressed the need for behavioural change, noting that although people were well-informed of the risk factors of NCDs, culture and tradition had tremendous influences on choices.

???Our belief that ???you have to dead from something??? seems to fly in the face of good prevention and meaningful public health protection. So, we go merrily on our way eating and drinking what we like and as much as we like with total disregard for good evidence. At the end of the day, the State is called on to provide salvage and rescue, which is usually frightfully expensive,??? he contended.

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