Guyana is second only to Trinidad and Tobago when it comes to the daunting impact of Non-Communicable Diseases [NCDs] within Caricom countries.
This especially daunting state of affairs was recently amplified by Senior Minister of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence.
In her revelation in this regard, Lawrence shared her conviction that the Caribbean has dropped the baton in the race against NCDs, and two of its leading members are on the podium of notoriety. She was at the time making reference to Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Minister pointed out that although the region was ahead of the rest of the world a decade ago when it produced the historic 15-point Port-of-Spain Declaration with its 26 Commitments to combat NCDs, it wasted the advantage.
Even as she complained about the daunting situation, Lawrence complained that one of the key architects of the plan, Trinidad and Tobago, is second to Guyana when it comes to deaths linked to NCDs.
The Senior Public Health Minister made these remarks as she addressed Saturday’s launch of the Presidential Commission on NCDs at the Umana Yana in Kingston. The Commission was officially launched by President David Granger, who expressed concern about the prevalence of NCDs in the Guyanese society and even dubbed it a ‘state of emergency’.
At that very forum, Minister Lawrence said that 57 percent of Guyanese adults suffer from some kind of NCDs. Of these, the Minister said that approximately 70 percent of people between the ages of 35 and 60 die annually from heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancers or chronic lung disease.
“Since the historic Port-of-Spain Declaration, NCDs continue to be a bugbear of the Region and one of the main challenges in the health sector in the Region of the Americas,” Minister Lawrence said, as she made reference to a July 2017 report circulated at the Caricom Heads of Government Conference.
The report in question is one that highlights diabetes and heart diseases as the major causes of deaths in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.
She said more people in the Americas are expected to fall victims to NCDs, with the statistics predicting “an increase in the coming decades due to population growth, aging and urbanisation, among other risks.”
Locally, Lawrence highlighted the herculean efforts of Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, who is working in the ‘All of government All of Society Approach’ to help counter the multidimensional causes of NCDs.
“The Ministry of Public Health will intensify the campaign against the perpetuation of this high incidence of premature deaths from NCDs in order to ensure a sustainable economic framework pillared by a healthy nation and fulfill the objectives of the 2030 agenda,” the Minister said.
She said too that the Public Health Ministry has already signalled its intention to roll back NCDs with the new tobacco laws with guidance from the global Framework Convention on Tobacco Control [FCTC] to which Guyana is a signatory.
“As a follow-up, the Ministry of Public Health, with the support of the Presidential Commission, will implement measures to abolish the marketing of tobacco to minors and eliminate exposure through second-hand smoking in public places,” the Minister disclosed recently.
Added to this, she promised that her Ministry will also initiate action against other risk factors.
“It is the Ministry of Health’s vision that the work of this Presidential Commission will make a tremendous impact on the lives of all our citizens [who] deserve the highest attainable quality of life,” Minister Lawrence said.
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