Health officials formulate 5 year non-communicable disease policy

The plan aims to target and manage non-communicable diseases via a multi-sector approach.

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), recently concluded a three-day strategic planning meeting.

The meeting targeted key stakeholders to aid Saint Lucia’s plan to manage non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

PAHO NCD advisor, Dr. Tomo Kanda, said the meeting was held to finalize a 5-year health plan.

“This two-day very intensive internal meeting is being held to finalize a national NCD policy and a multi-sector plan of action for the next five years,” she said. “NCDs are the first priority and a real health epidemic in Saint Lucia, especially childhood obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. The difference between the previous plan of action and this current plan is due to the multi-sector nature of the plan. Because the risk factors for non communicable diseases —the harmful use of alchol, tobacco, obesity, unhealthy diets and the lack of physical activity— are really beyond health sector’s approach, we intend to finalize a policy that will provide a healthy environment for Saint Lucians and will improve health promotion in Saint Lucia.”

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Merelene Fredericks, said it is important to avoid the risks that contribute to the development of NCDs.

“Many people would have heard of lifestyle risk factors, so we’re encouraging the public to eat healthy meals that contain more fruits and vegetables, and to cut back on unhealthy fats and sugars. Exercise is also encouraged, as well as stress reducing measures, because stress also has an impact on the body and can lead to many diseases.

“We will also address tobacco as it is one of the highest risk factors for the development of cancers, and we know that we have a definite problem with cancers in Saint Lucia.”

The plan formulated at the meeting will be finalized and sent to Cabinet for consideration.

The meeting was held from Feb. 13 – 15.