by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Ministry of Health in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis hosted its inaugural National Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Conference.
The conference was held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort from February 07 to 09 and was attended by members of the government, health officials and private sector representatives.
Minister of Health and Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew gave remarks at the conference where he revealed the challenges that the Federation and the global community currently face with Non-Communicable Diseases.
“In St. Kitts and Nevis, the situation is similar. The non-communicable diseases, in particular, Diabetes and Hypertension, are the leading cause of morbidity in the Federation. Currently, heart disease, stroke, cancer and complications of Diabetes [account] for 62 percent of all deaths in the Federation. The NCDs [are] our biggest health challenge, and therefore, we have decided to commence this calendar year by hosting this Non-Communicable Disease Conference,” the Prime Minister stated.
Prime Minister Drew said that the Non-Communicable Disease Conference brought stakeholders together to discuss the scourge of NCDs that are capable of hampering the growth and development of the country.
“The purpose of this Conference is to bring all stakeholders to the table and use a microscope to assess the current NCD situation in the Federation. We intend to review the Non-Communicable Diseases Surveillance System, NCD Policy and Legislative Initiatives, the NCD interventions, along with their successes, challenges and gaps.”
Drew added, “It is important that we win the battle against NCDs because the financial burden is tremendous. The Ministry of Health’s monthly payment to the OECS Pharmaceutical Pool Procurement System, through which we procure medication to medicate all patients with NCDs, are significant. It is costly to treat in hospital patients with end-stage renal disease, cardiac disease and cancers.”
About 4 million persons globally are affected by NCDs, with the Caribbean recording the highest rates.
Dr Drew added, “Non- Communicable Diseases account for 80.7 percent of all deaths in the Americas. The regional NCD mortality rate is 411.5 per 100,000 population. NCD Mortality ranges from a low of 3o1.5 per 100,000 in Canada to a high of 838.7 per 100,000 in Haiti, with the Caribbean showing the highest rates. More than a third or 36.2 percent of the NCD deaths in the region of the Americas occurred prematurely in people less than 70 years of age, equivalent to 2.1 million deaths from the statistics in 2019.”
Dr. Drew suggested that people be guided by science and data whilst funding and implementing sustainable interventions to address the matter of NCDs.
“Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases, are a major health challenge globally, regionally, and locally. The government, private sector, civil society, regional and international health partners must collaborate and adopt an integrated approach in response to the major non-communicable diseases including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, mental and substance abuse disorders.”
The risk factors of Non-Communicable Diseases outlined by the Prime Minister include unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, obesity, alcohol use, tobacco use, and air pollution, as well as the socioeconomic and environmental determinants of health.
Prime Minister Drew said health is a fundamental human right, adding that the Ministry of Health has an obligation to implement effective interventions to address the NCD situation in the country and to ensure and promote healthy living.