Concern about chronic diseases

An estimated eight percent of the population of Saint Lucia is diabetic.

The revelation has come from Assistant Principal Nursing Officer, Julieta Joseph.

Joseph has said that illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and upper respiratory diseases are the main causes of death locally.

The Assistant Principal Nursing Officer revealed that of them all, cancer is the most common.

She spoke as Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) came in for sharp focus at a two day consultation.

The event was organized by the PAN American Health Organization (PAHO).

It brought together a cross section of participants.

They included representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Health, Social Transformation, the St. Lucia Blind Welfare Association, Diabetes and Hypertension Association, faith based organisations and the Lung and Heart Association.

The consultation was held under the theme: “National Stakeholders Consultation on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases Policy and Multi-Sectoral Action Plan”

Nurse Julieta Joseph, acknowledged that Globally CNCDs rank as the number one killer with the same trend reflected in St. Lucia.

She asserted that the coming together of all ministries and organization to combat what was described as a national problem caused by CNCDs can realize positive outcomes for St. Lucia.

“We may not be able to make CNCDs disappear although that’s our goal, but at least we can reduce the incidence and prevalence of CNCDs in St. Lucia,” Joseph said.

She explained that the Ministry of Health is taking the matter very seriously.

She observed that because the Ministry cannot do it alone, it has recognized that the inputs and partnership with other stakeholders are critical for reducing CNCDs.

Joseph said it was for that reason that a Multi-Sectoral Action Plan has been developed.

“Today we are here as stakeholders to discuss this action plan, to review it for people to be aware of their roles and responsibilities and to give consensus and commitment to this multi-sectoral action plan,” she stated.

Dr. Tomo Kanda, PAHO’s Adviser on Non-Communicable Diseases said the action plan should span five years from 2016 – 2020.

According to Kanda, the prevention and control of CNCD’s should not reside solely with the Ministry of Health.

The PAHO Advisor said what is required is the cooperation, partnership and commitment from other stakeholders.

“St. Lucia has been increasing in morbidity, mortality because of non-communicable diseases particularly because of unhealthy food, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption and tobacco. So I think this is a time for St. Lucia to act together,” Kanda declared.

The multi-sectoral action plan will focus on four major strategic lines of action:

  1. Coordination, partnership, management of entire programme
  2. Reduction of risk factors and improvement of protective factors
  3. Health system response to CNCDs and risk factors
  4. Surveillance

Dr. Kanda said that in most of the Eastern Caribbean countries the CNCD programme is getting stronger.

However she explained that children, adolescents and elderly people are still neglected.

It is expected that the final policy and multi-sectoral action plan will be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers for final approval.

The workshop was held at the Cardinal Kelvin Felix Pastoral Centre on April 27th and 28th, 2016.