Barbadians have been challenged to take better care of their health by making better choices in what they eat, having proper diets and exercising to avoid developing chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, threw out the challenge to citizens across the country on Friday, after visiting The Maria Holder Diabetes Centre for the Caribbean to raise awareness of the need for testing and screening for the early detection and better outcomes of diabetes.
During that visit, she toured the facility and officially opened the SILS Dialysis Unit. “I want to use this opportunity to speak to our people, Barbadians, because the rate of increase in expenditure on dialysis, as a result of the loss of productivity from chronic NCDs has forced me and Government to have a Minister who has direct day-to- day responsibility for chronic NCDs and the QEH [Queen Elizabeth Hospital], Minister Browne,” she stated.
The Prime Minister further lamented that there were too many amputees and too many people losing their sight and dying from cardiovascular disease.
“It is within our control, we will play our part as Government and we have expanded the services, but I need Bajans, each and every one of us, and I don’t exclude myself, to play their role if we are going to win this battle against chronic NCDs,” Ms. Mottley stressed.
She gave the assurance that in the same way Government took a policy perspective in dealing with HIV and AIDS and ensuring that pregnant mothers received AZT early, it would again play its part in relation to chronic NCDs.
“We will do the community nurses and give you everything that you need. I’ll even buy the technology that can monitor. But, what we need you to do is to get up and walk, or get up and lift some weights, or to get up and make sure that when you’re eating, don’t…do the foolishness that will cause you to have to be a patient of this Center, and others,” the Prime Minister urged.
She told those gathered that Government had requested that COVID-19 Advocate, David Ellis, also assist in turning around what she described as the “reckless and inappropriate behaviour” of some, as it could have consequences.
“…Whether it is reckless eating, bad eating, whether it is no exercise, whether it is the reckless driving or even in motorcycles that I see every Sunday afternoon now… whether it is drinking, all of these things have a price.
“And this Government, as will future governments, wants to help keep Barbadians well. But we need the help of Barbadians to keep Barbadians well,” she encouraged.
Ms. Mottley said she made no apologies for her decision to increase taxes on soft drinks and sweetened beverages, especially after seeing charts in the dietician’s office at the Centre, which highlighted how much sugar was included in such drinks.
“…Nobody is telling you, you cannot use it, but we are telling you that if you use it, use it in moderation and anchor it with exercise. I learnt a long time ago that the things that are most difficult, and the most bitter, sometimes are best for you,” the Prime Minister advised.
She was accompanied on the visit by Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus; Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill; Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness with responsibility for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and chronic NCSs, Dr. Sonia Browne; Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. The Most Honourable, Kenneth George; other Government officials; and key stakeholders from the Maria Holder Memorial Trust.