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Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) are the major cause of death the world over for persons under 70.?? In Barbados more than 60 per cent of deaths are due to CNCDs, which include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. On September 19 and 20, leaders will gather from every nation for the High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases to be held in New York City at the United Nations.

This meeting will be an unprecedented opportunity for heads of state and world leaders to discuss the problems associated with CNCDs and work towards change. The conference will be of significance for the Caribbean people, since, aside from the fact the CNCDs are the major focuses in health, CARICOM proposed the resolution calling for the High- Level Meeting. Adding to the importance of finding a solution to CNCDs is the fact that these chronic diseases can contribute significantly to poverty and inequity within countries, thus giving further reason for a coordinated policy response. ??It should be noted that the failure to properly address and reduce the prevalence of CNCDs will be marked by a continued increase in unnecessary deaths and reduced productivity on a general scale. Such occurrences will impede the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals for 2015.

In addition social, economic and cultural changes, aging populations, globalisation, rapid urbanisation and other related developments are associated with the rise in incidence of these diseases. On a more specific level, risk factors include tobacco use, poor diet, harmful use of alcohol and physical inactivity.

Considering the massive scope of actively working towards a solution, the Ministry of Health is encouraging everyone’s participation in efforts to reduce CNCDs. Individuals will be inspired to increase their awareness of those diseases and to undertake lifestyle changes towards achieving better health.

At the population level, there are a number of tools already available for a move towards lower prevalence of these conditions. Among them are tobacco control, and control of harmful alcohol use, along with population based strategies to increase physical activity and the consumption of healthy diets.

At the conclusion of the High-Level meeting, it is envisaged that, aside from a changed perspective on the gravity of the situation, and government’s declaration of commitment for coordinated action, there will be international solidarity on matters relating to and the establishment of NCDs on the UN agenda.


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