By Lisa Bayley
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- A quarter of all adult Barbadians have at least one chronic disease and this is projected to increase to one third of all adults by 2025.
Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, shared this sobering statistic last Friday, as he gave the keynote address at the third annual China Health Forum (CHF) in Beijing. The two-day conference brought together ministers of health, senior health administrators and health institution executives, to improve global health reform and strengthen international co-operation.
Inniss called upon his international counterparts to rise to the task and find sustainable solutions to the challenges of NCDs pointing out that the world could not ignore the fundamental causes of NCDs in our countries.
"Whilst we may all differ in population and land size, language and finances, we must not differ in our commitment to win this war against NCDs. It places our current and future generations and our economies at great risk of survival... The challenges which we all face with NCDs are poised to wipe out our gains in social and economic development made over the past half century," he remarked.
He disclosed that not only was Barbados faced with an aging population, but generally speaking an increasingly unhealthy populace.
"Twenty-two per cent of all adults [over] 25 are hypertensive and this rises to 40 per cent in persons over age 60. Fourteen per cent over [age] 25 are diabetic or have impaired glucose tolerance and 17 per cent of adults over 40 have diabetes. Consistently over the last 10 years, heart disease, stroke and diabetes have been the leading three causes of death," the health minister noted.
He explained a number of local initiatives had been put in place to respond to NCDs including the Barbados National Registry, an investment in the strengthening of surveillance of chronic disease in Barbados; the establishment of the National Commission on Chronic Diseases, and The National Task Force on Physical Activity and Exercise; the nomination of a Special Envoy for NCDs to represent Barbados at regional and international meetings on CNCDs; the recent Health of the Nation and Salt studies; and, the establishment of the Diabetic Foot Care Committee.
Inniss called for a "whole of society approach" to end this scourge since the macro social and economic environment strongly influenced this matter. He maintained the commitment of this island's Ministry of Health to focus on early diagnosis and treatment and the creation of good surveillance systems, was critical in guiding informed decisions.
He commended China's Minister of Health Chen Zhu, on his leadership on healthcare reforms not only in his country but also in the international arena. China also has a challenge in the area of NCDs and like Barbados has taken a multi-sectoral response to NCDs in China.
According to the China National Plan for NCD Prevention and Treatment (2012-2015) issued on May 8, 2012, "Along with the fast industrialisation, urbanisation, and aging, the number of Chinese living with NCDs has been increasing dramatically, and the number of persons with diagnosed NCDs is 260 million, making them a major public health threat... NCDs account for 85 per cent of all deaths in China, and 70 per cent of the total disease burden."
Chronic non‐communicable diseases are a group of medical conditions that include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or high blood pressure, chronic respiratory disease, obesity, stroke, and some cancers such as of the breast, prostate, and cervix.