Since its formation, the National Commission on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) has been actively seeking to fulfill its mandate to advise on, advocate for, facilitate and promote best practices in the prevention and control of chronic diseases.
To date, it has produced a three-year strategic plan, which sets out a road map for the Commission’s role in critical areas, such as the reduction of salt in household and commercial diets to stem the rise of hypertension, strokes and heart disease.
Chairman of the Commission, Professor Trevor Hassell, outlined this last Saturday as he addressed the start of the Caribbean Wellness Day 2009 in Independence Square. "This calls for full governmental support not only with respect to funding, but also with appropriate legislative, regulations and technical inputs," he said, noting that the plan recognised "the need for strengthening the relationship between the health and non-health sectors and the valuable contribution that could be made by trade unions, the business community, faith-based groups, schools and other civil society organisations".
According to Professor Hassell, over the next three years, implementation of the measures outlined in the strategic plan should enhance a multi-sectoral management of initiatives towards reducing CNCDs here in Barbados.
To advance the issue of improved diets and nutrition, which is a major cause of concern among Barbadians, the Commission has already submitted a proposal for a Ministry of Health Committee-led Salt Reduction programme, the emphasis of which will be on population salt reduction.
The Head of the Commission also said that the low salt programme would be integrated into existing food, nutrition, health and education programmes conducted by Government and NGOs dealing with health.
"The reason for the focus on salt is that dietary salt increases blood pressure, which results in hypertension, that accounts for 54% of strokes and 47% of heart disease. So, half of all Barbadians who suffer with stroke or heart disease, also suffer with hypertension. Against this background, it is also known that Barbadians consume too much salt.
"The reality is that reduced salt intake will not only lower blood pressure levels throughout Barbados, but will make blood pressure control easier in those people who suffer hypertension, thereby logically, reducing strokes and heart disease."
While stating that it was important that Barbadians understood what was proposed, he stressed, "This salt reduction programme will aim to reduce the amount of salt added in the commercial processing and preparation of food, ensuring that low salt foods are easily accessible to all strata of the population."??
The CNCD Commission was launched on January 26, 2007. It comprises 18 members, representing a wide ranging group of individuals whose expertise can support the development of CNCDs’ policies.