Dr. Ferguson said recent national surveys showed an increase in the major behavioural risk factors and NCDs, such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes, among adults.
The Minister emphasised that it is in recognition of this burden and the threat of NCDs that the Ministry has developed a road map – the National Strategic and Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2018.
The Action Plan is expected to result in a significant reduction in the burden of preventable morbidity and disability and premature mortality due to NCDs and injuries by 25 per cent by 2015.
The Minister made his comments in a message to launch Caribbean Wellness Day, at the Mona campus offices of the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) at the University of the West Indies on September 10, and read by Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr. Kevin Harvey.
He said the Ministry of Health will join PAHO to observe Caribbean Wellness Day 2014, on Saturday, September 13, as part of efforts to increase awareness of non-communicable diseases and how they affect the population and the economy.
He pointed out that World Health Organization (WHO) statistics show that an estimated 63 per cent of deaths across the world are due to NCDs, particularly cardiovascular diseases (48 per cent), cancers (21 per cent), chronic respiratory diseases (12 per cent), and diabetes (3.5 per cent).
Noting that the World Economic Forum estimates that the burden to countries due to deaths associated with NCDs was $22.8 trillion in 2010, he said this is expected to increase to $43.3 trillion in 2030, if in-roads are not made in stemming NCDs.In 2001, the estimated cost of diabetes and hypertension in Jamaica was US$461 million.
Making the link with the theme for the Day, ‘Preserving the Workforce for National and Regional Development’, the Minister said that, “we must recognize the enormous burden that we face and that our workforce and our economy are in jeopardy if we do not collectively and decisively combat the scourge of NCDs.”
He cited last year’s implementation of the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations, as a major move made to address NCDs.
“We continue to urge businesses and others to put the necessary measures in place, so that their workers can live a better and healthier life and breathe easier,” the Minister urged.
Meanwhile, PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Noreen Jack, said workplaces should make healthy food choices available, and support and encourage physical activity.
“Workplace wellness has the potential to reach significant proportions of the adults who are employed…it works through influencing behaviours at multiple levels, directly, such as through education, increasing the availability of healthy foods, and the opportunities for physical activity – or indirectly, through social support and social norms and promoting healthy behaviours,” she outlined.
The CARICOM Port of Spain Declaration calls on Member States to observe Caribbean Wellness Day on the second Saturday of September each year.
The annual event, which was initiated in 2008, provides an advocacy opportunity to increase awareness of the burden of NCDs in the region; mobilize and strengthen public, private, and civil society partnerships for NCDs; showcase national community level activities to promote healthy living, and encourage citizens to develop good health practices.
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