Minister of Health, Donville Inniss (FP)

A new study that will use state-of-the-art methods to provide "the most accurate picture" of why Barbados has such high levels of diabetes, stroke and heart disease will be launched this month.

The Health of the Nation: Taking the Pulse of Barbados is a study that will be conducted by the Ministry of Health and the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Chronic Disease Research Centre (CDRC). It will seek to provide the first proper measure of a number of risk factors of chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs). For instance, recognising that a high intake of salt is known to contribute to high blood pressure, the study will examine how much salt Barbadians take each day.

Additionally, it will be the first ever measure of how many Barbadians have high cholesterol, a factor that is known to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.??

Using heart rate monitors and motion sensors, this study will also provide the first accurate measure of how active Barbadians really are. This will be done against the backdrop that physical inactivity is known to contribute to the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The study will also seek to give the first measure of how many of our population have undiagnosed diabetes. Studies elsewhere have shown that of the people surveyed, as many as half had diabetes, but were unaware of this as they had not yet been diagnosed.

Other novel aspects of the study will include the first ever assessment of how common renal (kidney) disease is; and how much CNCDs cost individuals, their families and the health care system in Barbados.

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, in commending the efforts of the two entities, said: "The Ministry is supporting this study in order to strengthen our efforts in the prevention and treatment of chronic non-communicable diseases". The Chairman of the National Commission for Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases, Professor Trevor Hassell, stated that "accurately knowing which segments of the population are most affected will enable us to target and monitor the effect of our preventive efforts".

The Health of the Nation is a nationwide study of 2,000 people, aged 25 years and over.??

Recruitment to the study is just beginning. Cognisant of the fact that its success depends on participants being representative of the adult population of Barbados, researchers are working closely with the Barbados Statistical Service to ensure this is the case.??

It is also important that all persons who are invited to participate agree to do so.?? Director of the CDRC, Professor Anselm Hennis, explained: "We can only build an accurate picture of chronic diseases and what needs to be done for prevention if we see all those who are invited to participate. Even if people feel that they have little to gain personally from taking part, they will be contributing to knowledge that in the long run will benefit all Barbadians."

The study, which is expected to be completed by early 2012, is being led by two principal investigators. They are Director of the Barbados National Registry, Angela Rose, and Chair of Epidemiology and Public Health at the UWI, Professor Nigel Unwin.

Individuals with an interest in the study and requiring further information on it may contact the Project Manager, Christina Howitt, at the CDRC at telephone number 426-6416 or at email address christina.howitt@cavehill.uwi.edu.


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