[www.inewsguyana.com] – Delivering the formal address at the launch of the Presidential Commission on Non Communicable diseases (NCDs) yesterday, at the Guyana International Conference centre, Liliendaal, President Donald Ramotar called for more prominence of this category of diseases as compared to the communicable diseases that often grab international headlines.
He noted that diseases such as Bird Flu, Ebola and even Chikungunya are being focused on, but it must be understood that NCDs are more prevalent and are responsible for the deaths of about 70% of persons between ages 35 to 60 across the Caribbean, alone. “In 2013, some 382 million persons were said to have had diabetes, in the next 25 years that figure could rise if we don’t do anything about it, to 593 million”.
It was pointed out that NCDs, for which the Caribbean region ranks the highest in the Americas, have dealt a “heavy blow” to the economic and social life of countries around the world. He said that for instance China alone would lose some $558 billion and India, $237 billion, by 2017, according to a study done in 2007,
“As bad enough as it is for them, in small developing countries like ours the impact is even more strongly felt”. It was in recognition of this that CARICOM signed the Declaration of Port of Spain in Trinidad, to jointly address these challenges, he added, and in 2011, the issue was raised at a United Nations high level meeting.
On the local front, the Ministry of Health is doing its part to raise awareness, but all must become involved. President Ramotar cited the need to encourage persons, particularly children to become more active, and all must endeavour to eat healthily as, “We are what we eat”.
He cited his own weight loss as an example of exercising and eating correctly, stating that 90% of the 70 lbs he lost was as a result of healthy eating. Good habits must be encouraged and government will continue to do its part to reduce alcohol abuse, tobacco usage, and other harmful activities, the president said. “All of us have benefits and we have nothing to lose, but we have a lot to gain”.
Among those on hand for the event were PAHO’s Director General, Dr. Carissa Etienne, who said that NCDs was not just a health issue, but also a developmental one that encompasses all sectors of society.
“We don’t have a chance; if we fail, we will fail the next generation…we can’t afford to lose 60 to 70% of our population at its most productive”.
She noted that while globalisation has brought development, it has also resulted in numerous health changes, with NCDs killing 35 million people worldwide, two out of three persons affected die and more than 80% related deaths are in low to middle income countries, nearly one-third of these deaths occur before the age of 60.
Dr Etienne said, “They spend being sick, they spend resources on medical care, they become disabled and they lose their productive potential”. She added that a response to address the issue requires a leadership response, “One which we are seeing today”.
The presence of President Ramotar and top government officials, she added, “is a testimony to the fact that they recognise the importance of NCDs, not only to the health of its people, but the wealth and development of this country.”
[Extracted and modified from GINA]