PM confirms to UN “Non-communicable diseases constitute an epidemic” in the Bahamas

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Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham at the United Nationas today.

THE PRIME MINISTER: The Bahamas aligns itself with the statements made by the distinguished representative of Argentina on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and His Excellency the President of Suriname on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). My Government is pleased to participate in this historic high-level meeting as this august Assembly recognizes for the first time the growing burden of non-communicable diseases and its socio-economic impact.

Non-communicable diseases constitute an epidemic in my country, The Bahamas. This epidemic is putting increased strain on our health care system.

In The Bahamas:

• One half of all public hospital beds are occupied by people suffering from NCDs, with an average length of stay of seven (7) days.

• Eighty per cent of the drug costs for our National Prescription Drug Plan are spent on treating hypertension and diabetes.

• Half of deaths of individuals 45 years and older, and

• 60% of all deaths are caused by this epidemic of NCDs.

• Health and related socio-economic costs associated are enormous.

The dual burden of NCD’s and communicable diseases has led my Government to:

• Strengthen primary health care services by integrating family medicine specialists at the primary health care clinics;

• Increase access to medications to control NCDs with the implementation of a National Prescription Drug Plan;

• Promote healthy living and demonstrate that increased physical activity and a balanced diet can lead to reduced dependence on prescription medication;

• Facilitate patient self-management programmes;

• Partner with non-governmental (NGO) and faith-based organizations to conduct worksite and community-based wellness programmes;

• Develop National Food and Nutrition Guidelines and Policy;

• Improve the coordination of services through the appointment of a NCD focal point and a Stakeholder Committee.

While we recognize the important leadership role of the United Nations and the World Health Organization in supporting efforts to decrease the prevalence of NCDs we strongly recommend the following:

  1. Increase international and regional budgetary allocations.
  2. Increase access to training in policy formulation, monitoring and evaluation, and coordination across health systems.
  3. Policy changes for inter-sectoral involvement in the NCD prevention initiative, and
  4. Sharing of best practices in trade and industry

My Government welcomes this morning’s adoption of the Political Declaration as a sound platform upon which to build. Nevertheless, we note many of its shortfalls, particularly in the areas of concrete commitments towards scaling up of resources and actions at all levels and more importantly, the lack of agreement on establishment of an effective follow-up mechanism.

Mr. President,

To stem and redirect the course of the epidemic we must promote and encourage changes to our lifestyles, and making healthy behaviour and appropriate food choices for our children. My Government applauds some of the initiatives undertaken to curb the increasing rate of childhood obesity. We must continue to fight the global health challenges facing us. We owe it to future generations.

I thank you.