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St. Kitts and Nevis taking steps to reduce cases of hypertension and kidney disease

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By Devonne Cornelius

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Ministry of Health in St. Kitts and Nevis has a number of activities planned to commemorate National Salt Awareness Week and World Kidney Day in 2023.

 Renal health education sessions will take place from March 06 to 07, 2023, at the Hemodialysis Unit, where information about kidney disease and how to manage the condition will be shared. The Ministry of Health will also host an activity dubbed “Get Active Day” on March 08 at 4:30 p.m. at the Newtown Playfield. On March 09, people are encouraged to eat healthy foods that match the colours of the rainbow. Sessions on taking care of the kidney will also be held. 

 Dr. Marrisa Carty, Health Promotion Unit and Noncommunicable Diseases Coordinator spoke of steps being taken to reduce the salt intake of people in St. Kitts and Nevis. 

 “We are working towards preparing policies that go towards salt reduction. One of the areas where we recognize that we use a lot of salt is in the preparation of bread…and that is one of the areas we are looking at. The nutrition program is spearheading that area, and they are going to be meeting with the stakeholders and discussing with them how we could go about working with our bakeries in order to reduce the salt content of our bread and pastries,” Dr. Carty said during the February 22 edition of Voices on WINN FM. 

 According to the Ministry of Health, at the end of 2020, findings reveal that 31.7 percent of men and 68.3 percent of women make up the total number of cases of hypertension in St. Kitts and Nevis in the public health system. These statistics do not include people who visit private healthcare providers. From 2016 to 2020, the Ministry of Health says there were 88 cases of hypertension in the public health system, and in 2022, there were 40 new cases. As of 2023, 35 patients are currently receiving hemodialysis treatment, and of that total, 22 have hypertension as a comorbidity.

 Dr. Carty used the opportunity to explain the difference in the statistics of hypertension in men and women in St. Kitts and Nevis.  

 “Women access public healthcare more often than men, which is why we pick up more [hypertension] in women than men. I think that may be the best explanation for that. Men’s health is very important, and so we need to try and make sure we encourage more of our men to access our public health system.”

 Mrs. Latoya Matthew-Duncan, the Nutrition Surveillance Coordinator who also appeared on the program, stated that “globally, most men die from undiagnosed hypertension.”That is why it is known as the silent killer, so we have to be extremely careful because, with a lot of these NCD’s conditions, you feel no pain. “

Mrs. Matthew-Duncan added: “Some persons could have kidney disease, hypertension, or diabetes, for a few years before actually being diagnosed, and for some individuals, it might be too late.” 

National Salt Awareness Week is being celebrated from March 04 – 11, 2023 and World Kidney Day will be observed on March 09. 

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