The National Chronic Non-communicable Disease Commission has been urged by Health Minister, Dr. David Estwick to establish relations with the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to tackle issues of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCDs).

Minister Estwick, who recently attended his first meeting with the Commission, said he wanted to see “much attention placed on the establishment of defined relationships with the private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other business interests from the perspective of support, outsourcing and collaboration to help achieve the Commission’s goals in a more holistic way.”

Reminding members of the common refrain by Barbadians that ‘It is very expensive to live healthy’, he said, “We have to find a way within the framework to create those circumstances where what we indicate to be a healthy lifestyle from the nutritional inputs and from the inputs of exercise and other aspects of wellbeing are met…”

“For example, if you want people to walk you have to create the paths for them to walk… and have reduced costs on exercise equipment,” he added.

Dr. Estwick warned that the failure to do this would preclude the Commission from reaching the average individual, irrespective of the types of frameworks put in place.

He also acknowledged that there were challenges to be surmounted including the fact that the population was an ageing one with an added burden of CNCDs. He further stated that this would require some adjustments to the health-care system in respect of monitoring such individuals. In addition, the Health Minister pointed out that obesity was affecting more and more young people and the health system needed to be more flexible to execute the necessary responses. 

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Commission, Professor Trevor Hassel said that the body was committed to playing a major role as a catalyst and a stimulus in order to bring about change. Noting that it would also assist the Ministry in sustaining the Chronic Disease Registry that was recently established, Professor Hassell said this would be done to ensure the Registry functioned efficiently and effectively.

He added that, “the Commission would not just be a talk shop. We will work as an advocacy agency… advocating not just in the community, but in the Ministry.”

The Commission includes members from the medical profession, trade union, Ministry of Agriculture, non-governmental organisations, the education sector, as well as representatives from the private sector.

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