Director of the Chronic Disease Research Centre (CDRC), Professor Anselm Hennis believes that although Barbados has made significant strides in its development, it is now paying a high price as a result of lifestyle-related illnesses.
He was at the time addressing the official launch of the Barbados National Registry on Chronic Non-communicable Disease (BNR), at the CDRC’s headquarters at Jemmott’s Lane.
Professor Hennis stated that Barbados remained a leading developing nation, listed at number 37 in terms of the Human Development Index; was considered a high income country by the World Bank; had full access to a comprehensive health care system, that was among the best in the region, and possessed a well-developed infrastructure, staffed by highly trained personnel.
However, he added, lifestyle-related illnesses, including a high rate of cardiovascular disease, had challenged our health care system and our resources.
While highlighting the challenges, the Director, who is also a collaborator on the BNR, spoke about the ability to impact positively on the situation. He pointed out myriad ways in which the CDRC had informed the community about the disease burden, noting the amount of knowledge that had been gleaned.
He said: “For example, we now know that our women have the second highest rates of amputation in global comparisons and that 50% of persons with diabetes die within five years of amputation.”
The physician also lamented the fact. “That 30% of persons suffering from a stroke die within one month of the event and while breast and prostate cancer incidence rates are lower in Barbadians than African Americans, the mortality rates are almost identical.”
The Professor explained that the work of the BNR would allow the Ministry of Health and the CDRC the ability to report on national trends and patterns of disease; to provide data that would aid in setting and monitoring goals and targets for disease outcomes, as well as provide data for the evaluation of preventive, diagnostic and treatment interventions.
“It would also allow for the provision of timely data for planning and optimal health services nationally and ultimately assist the achievement of health policies to national health status and be used to inform Government health policy goals linked to population health status,” explained the CDRC Director.
A disease registry is a database that contains information about people diagnosed with a specific type of disease. Most registries are either hospital-based or population based. The BNR is representative of the covering the entire island of Barbados.
It is a joint undertaking between the Ministry of Health and the University of the West Indies which combines the components of the surveillance for stroke, heart disease and cancer within a single Registry.