Senior Medical Officer of Health (Chronic Diseases) Dr. Kenneth George says there is a health crisis in the island.

Chronic disease crisis

Barbados’ population is facing a crisis when it comes to the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

So says Senior Medical Officer of Health (Chronic Diseases) Dr. Kenneth George, as he spoke at the launch of the Barbados Workers’ Union ‘Healthy Living’ project at Solidarity House yesterday.

This initiative provides health and lifestyle counselling for union members 65 years and over. According to him, with an estimated one third of this group suffering from some form of NCD, it is critical for people to take responsibility in reducing the risk factors which can lead to such a diagnosis.

Addressing approximately 75 seniors gathered in the auditorium, he indicated that within the audience “there may only be ten persons who can say ‘I don’t have diabetes’; ‘I don’t have hypertension’; ‘I am not overweight’, so I am telling you, it is a very small number in this room that can make that claim, because the burden in this age group is certainly very, very high.”

“We in the Ministry of Health estimate that with persons 65 years and older, 90 per cent have at least one risk factor or non-communicable disease,” George said.

However, the ‘crisis’ does not mean that everything is lost, according to the doctor.

Noting that at least 80-90 per cent of adults possess at least one risk factor – whether being overweight, not exercising daily, using alcohol, smoking and not having proper nutrition – he stressed, “If you have one risk factor you can deal with it, but if you have two you are more prone to develop hypertension. If you have three, you are more prone to hypertension and diabetes, so it is very additive. So when I say we are in crisis what I really mean is that the population itself has so much risk going on in it, and this can be changed very easily and requires interventions not only from government, but from the individual.” (JMB)

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