Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy N.J. Antoine, has emphasised investing more in primary health care to save lives and livelihoods.
He spoke at the recent Opening Ceremony of the 7th Growth and Resilience Dialogue 2023.
Antoine said one of the key lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic was the criticality of primary health care.
“It really is inspired by the old adage ‘Prevention is better than cure’,” the ECCB Governor stated.
“If you think of the more than one thousand victims of COVID-19 in the ECCU, many of them suffered from pre-existing conditions, comorbidities which are essentially our non-communicable diseases,” Antoine stated.
He described non-communicable diseases as a silent epidemic.
And Antoine disclosed that almost eight in ten regional deaths are attributable to those diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer.
He observed that principally because of diabetes, the region has a high number of amputees.
“If you think of what that does for our households. If you think of what that does for our community. If you think of what that does for an economy and a society where people are cut off because of these diseases, you would understand that we have to do far more to attack the scourge that is non-communicable diseases in this region,” Antoine asserted.
In addition to urging greater investment in primary health care, the ECCB Governor spoke of the need for people to take personal responsibility for their health.
He noted that it includes healthy eating, active lifestyles, and a commitment to medical check-ups.
“Too often we defer and we delay and when we do it it’s only because our women – our wives, our partners, our mothers insist that we go to the doctor,” he said.
“And far too often when we finally arrive at the doctor’s door – stage one, stage two, stage three, stage four, and then we are going around with a bowl in our hand trying to raise money,” the ECCB Governor said.
He said it breaks his heart to see that happen repeatedly in member countries.