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President of the Diabetes Association of Barbados (DAB), Trudy Griffith.

Managing NCDs a must

Barbados and other countries across the globe must invest in better management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

President of the Diabetes Association of Barbados (DAB), Trudy Griffith, made this point as she highlighted a lesson that can be learnt internationally and locally from the COVID-19 pandemic.

She was one of the panellists at Tuesday’s webinar by the PAHO/WHO Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, United Kingdom Overseas Territories and French Departments which focused on the topic, “NCDs and COVID-19: Building Back Better Services”.

Griffith noted that achieving this will “require intersectoral collaboration which [is] not limited to health, finance, transportation, education, agriculture and urban planning. We really do need all sectors involved to ensure that we are not going to fall through the cracks and we need to tackle NCDs through a public health approach which emphasises prevention, early detection and timely local treatment at the primary healthcare level.”

Speaking directly about how COVID-19 has impacted service delivery within her organisation, Griffith shared some of the challenges faced. She said the Association had to postpone its fund-raising events, close its headquarters, and halt face-to-face meetings and mass gatherings. The Association additionally had to postpone any educational training, all testing and all other service provisions had to be cancelled.

Giving an even greater picture of the impact, Griffith stated in terms of testing trend over the last 12 months “up to March, we have been averaging under 100 persons a month in some cases and then for the months of April, May and June of this year that has gone all the way down to zero. So you can see the impact of COVID-19 in terms of one of our services that we offer.”

Looking ahead, the President outlined the lessons to be learnt at an organisational level. These included the “need to be responsive and relevant”, the need to look “at implementing contingency planning for all of our areas of operation”, the “need to evaluate additional options for delivering services not just to our members but for the public”. She additionally stated COVID-19 highlighted the “need to pursue alternate means to communicate with members”. In relation to this, Griffith said the Association started a radio broadcast called ‘For The Health Of It’. This will be used to communicate with its members and improve health literacy across the nation.

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