Chronic, non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) such as diabetes, strokes and hypertension are accounting for almost fifty percent of the more than 1500 clinical and home visits conducted by medical personnel in the Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay areas, Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said.
The same can be said of Eleuthera, where health professionals there report that the two “most common” chronic, non-communicable diseases are diabetes and hypertension, which has resulted in increased demand for medicines to treat these diseases.
Dr. Minnis’ disclosure came during a recent visit to the Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay areas at which time the Minister, accompanied by senior health officials from the Ministry of Health and the Department of Public Health and on-island healthcare teams, toured community healthcare centres/clinics in the area.
The Minister’s visit is part of a tour he embarked upon which is expected to result in the streamlining of the healthcare infrastructure and system in the various Family Islands.
Dr. Minnis scheduled visits to additional Family Islands to gain “first-hand” knowledge of any deficiencies and/or shortages in the healthcare system in the Family Islands.
The campaign to halt the current increase in CNCDs, which can be prevented with the right combination of healthy living, diet and exercise, has become a focal point of Dr. Minnis, the Ministry of Health and the Department of Public Health.
The Health Minister said healthy living should be a necessary component of every family and individual within The Bahamas, considering the fact that life expectancies are now longer.
“Enjoying a good quality of life is very important when we begin to talk about living longer life spans and so persons should stand up and take notice of what we are saying to them with regards to healthy living, proper diets and exercise,” Dr. Minnis said.
“For example, if a person suffers a stroke at the age of 40, they may live an additional 30-40 years and may have a long life, but their quality of life will be impacted. The same goes for a person suffering from diabetes who may have to have a leg amputated as a result of the disease, or someone suffering from one of the other illnesses associated with CNCDs such as hypertension,” Dr. Minnis added.
Dr. Minnis said health officials have developed and implemented a national education and awareness programme that has been designed to promote healthy living, diet and exercise among Bahamians. The programmes also include instruction in proper food preparation methods which plays a large role in healthy eating.
The Health Minister said it is a proven fact that healthy living, proper diet, exercise and education and awareness can have a positive impact in reducing the number of CNCDs. He said the increase in CNCDs is not unique to The Bahamas, but is indeed a regional and global situation.
“We have developed a plan that calls for even more educational and awareness programmes; more dietary programmes and more wellness programmes than we already have in place to the point where people across The Bahamas will be forced to pay even greater attention as we continue to combat the growing numbers of CNCDs,” Dr. Minnis said.
“I think people are beginning to realize how important it is to live healthier lifestyles because the prevalence of CNCDs is not just a problem in The Bahamas, but it is a challenge that exists worldwide,” Dr. Minnis added.