Public health policy-makers and practitioners are working assiduously to tackle challenges associated with the burden of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John acknowledged this today as she addressed the opening of a stakeholders meeting on “The Caribbean Regional Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases” hosted by the Pan-American Health Organisation, at the Barbados Beach Club, Maxwell Coast Road.

Dr. St. John told the gathering that the world was witnessing “a significant increase in the global burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardio-vascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease.”

She said, “The increasing global epidemic of these diseases is closely related to respective changes in lifestyle mainly in tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet.”

Referring to the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics she added, “Mortality, morbidity and disability attributed to NCDs account for approximately 60% of all deaths worldwide (of which 77% are in developing countries’, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); and 43% of the global burden of disease (of which 85% is in low and middle income countries).

While noting that the Caribbean had not been spared the scourge of NCDs, the senior health official said, “The burden of non-communicable diseases has escalated to the extent that they have now become a major public health crisis.

According to her, a mortality trend analysis in Eastern Caribbean countries showed that NCDs accounted for the five leading causes in 2000. She concluded, “Of special note was diabetes which climbed from the fifth cause of death in 1985 to second place in 2000.

The meeting, which continues tomorrow is a response to the mandate of the Heads of Government, articulated in the Port of Spain Declaration, giving support for CARICOM and PAHO to work together to revise the Regional Plan for Prevention and Control of NCDs and for the monitoring and evaluation of the Declaration.

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