August 28, 2012
CNCDs are the main health challenges in SVG – deShong

Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) continue to be a problem for health officials in St Vincent and the Grenadines and the rest of the region.{{more}}

The problem is so serious that health officials in the country have included it as one of the 10 principal areas of focus for next year.

According to Luis deShong, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, the top leading cases dealt with at the out district health clinics include hypertension, diabetes, asthma, gastritis and diseases affecting the circulatory system.

“The available literature that exists suggests that non-communicable diseases are the main public health challenges for the 21st century and these diseases are the leading cause of death and injury in most Caribbean countries and St Vincent and the Grenadines is no exception,” deShong said.

According to the health official, records from the community health service showed that for the period 2009 to 2011, there were 1,163 new recorded cases of hypertension, 478 cases of diabetes and 456 cases of diabetes combined with hypertension.

He said that CNCDs all shared common link factors which include tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and the harmful use of alcohol.

“These diseases can be prevented and people living with chronic non-communicable diseases can be better supported with an organized, pro-active health system,” the PS said.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day consultation of stakeholders in the ministry of health, which opened yesterday, where a policy document to deal with the issue of CNCDs was expected to be crafted.

“This is not the most pleasant portrait of the health of the people of our blessed land,” deShong said, adding that the health system remains challenged by CNCDs.

“We must therefore craft appropriate strategies to address these challenges and we are confident that we will be able to discuss some systems for the delivery of quality chronic care.”

This prompted Dr Tomo Kada, Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Advisor and one of the facilitators of the two-day workshop to say that it was important for the local health officials to put together a policy that was practical and had the potential to be easily implemented.

“I have seen many excellent plan of action documents, but [they] have never been implemented,” Kada said.

She added that this was a common problem in the region, where people were good at signing off on a declaration and ratifying it, but the actual implementation aspect was lacking.

While a final plan of action is the ultimate goal, she explained, it was not necessary to produce a 100-page final document.

Nobody will read it, Kada contended.

“You need something concise, precise – very simple and something that is possible to be implemented by all stakeholders,” she said.

The workshop is expected to end today. (DD)