The Ministry of Health and Wellness has designated 2020 as the year to make a significant dent in the non-communicable disease epidemic in Barbados.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, announced on Monday that he will be taking a paper to Cabinet to officially declare 2020 the year to combat NCDs.
In collaboration with the 2020 We Gatherin’ Committee, a parish will be targeted each month from January through December and a comprehensive initiative implemented “to drive home the message of NCD prevention”.
Minister Bostic said this is one of the initiatives slated for next year to address a challenge which he described as “our Hurricane Dorian…except that Hurricane Dorian was a one-off event, devastating as it was, but this one is one that is going to be with us for a long time to come”.
He said Barbados is currently losing the NCD battle, and it is a fight that the country could not afford to lose.
There was a need for a different approach, he said, one that would embrace everyone, “from individuals to families, communities, churches. All must be involved in this effort and when I say to you that this is a serious, serious battle, I really want you to understand this”.
The Minister of Health and Wellness also announced new plans to take the message of NCD prevention into communities, stating that health professionals could no longer wait for people to come into polyclinics seeking information.
He welcomed an initiative by the Prime Minister to train about 40 healthcare workers who will be assigned to polyclinics, not to work in the polyclinics, but to go into the communities educating people about how to prevent NCDs and also how to manage the diseases if they have already been diagnosed.
The Minister said that much of the overcrowding still being experienced in the Accident and Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was the result of persons with poorly managed NCDs seeking care.
On Independence Day, he revealed, head boys and head girls of primary and secondary schools will be designated wellness ambassadors, with the responsibility of promoting wellness in their schools.
The National Task Force on Wellness has been reconstituted to embrace mass-based organizations such as the Seventh Day Adventist Pathfinders, the cadets, scouts, girl guides, the Barbados Defence Force and sporting organizations to help spread the message.
Minister Bostic said discussion was also going on to develop an electronic platform for use by all civil society organizations which deal with NCDs, as well as the development of an NCD app to keep people updated.
The Minister of Health and Wellness was speaking at the opening of a day of activities at the Eunice Gibson Polyclinic, Warrens, St. Michael, during which the polyclinic was presented with a donation of 20 chairs by the Breath of Life Seventh Day Adventist Church.