Deaths from Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases Continue to Grow in The Bahamas

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Regional delegates attend the Official Opening of the CARMEN Biennial Meeting on Monday, at Super Club Breezes, Cable Beach. (Photo by Raymond A. Bethel)

By: Llonella Gilbert

NASSAU, Bahamas – Mortality data on Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCD) in The Bahamas show that in 2005, these diseases accounted for nearly 65 per cent of all deaths, Minister of Health and Social Development, the Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis said Monday.

Dr. Minnis said CNCD related deaths in 2001 were 45 per cent and in 2003 were 57.4 per cent, indicating that the number of CNCD deaths has risen steadily in the country.

“The burden of these diseases, if only measured in mortality is great, and even greater when hospitalisation and drug costs are factored in along with disability and mortality due to these diseases,” he said.

Dr. Minnis was speaking at the opening of an in-depth planning exercise by officials of the Pan American Health Organization, ministerial delegates and experts in public health from the Caribbean and the Americas.

The meeting in The Bahamas was convened to discuss ways of reverse the troubling trends and estimates of the present and future epidemiology of chronic diseases in the Americas.

The officials will also be taking stock of the progress of prevention over the last 10 years and plan intensified action, including raising awareness about the human and economic burden of chronic diseases as well as the cost effective measures available.

Dr. Minnis noted that CNCDs are not only a problem for The Bahamas or the region of the Americas but it is a global epidemic.

“We are all challenged with the increasing morbidity and mortality due to all these diseases, he said. “The good news however, is that we can all do something, in our individual countries as well as collectively, to change the face of the epidemic.

“We know much about prevention and control of the contributing lifestyle behaviours and the many social and environmental determinants.”
Dr. Minnis said these factors all contribute to the burden of CNCDs currently being experienced in the respective countries.

“Target interventions such as the healthy lifestyle initiative that focus on lifestyle behaviour modification can reduce many of the common risk factors for the key chronic diseases.

“When we design interventions,” Dr. Minnis said, “we must use approaches which cut across all levels: the family, individual, community and must involve legislation and public policy.”

He added that the World Health Organization has given this matter its much needed attention and has proposed the Integrated Chronic Diseases Prevention and Control Programme.

Dr. Minnis explained that this programme embodies the principles of health promotion and integrating primary, secondary and tertiary prevention across all sectors and disciplines. It also aims to reducing premature mortality and morbidity due to CNCDs.

“If each country in the region of the Americas adopts this Integrated Chronic Disease Prevention Strategy and gives attention to diet, physical activity and healthy lifestyle behaviours, we will be moving in the right direction toward combating the epidemic of CNCDs in the region,” he said.