Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Etienne, has described the risk of chronic diseases in Dominica as an erupting volcano, with a huge eruption on the way.
“We already have all of the risk factors present for chronic diseases. This morning I met with cabinet and I told cabinet that we are sitting on a volcano that has started erupting, but the huge eruption is yet to come,” Dr Etienne said while addressing a press conference at the Old APU Building at the Princess Margaret Hospital on Tuesday 7th July 2015, said. “So we are on a tsunami of chronic diseases.”
The PAHO Director is reporting what she described as ‘startling statistics’ on the island in terms of chronic diseases.
“We have some startling statistics in Dominica,” she said. “For every three persons, one has high blood pressure. For every five persons in Dominica, one has diabetes. For every four persons in Dominica, one has high cholesterol. For every two people in Dominica, one is overweight or obese.”
Etienne said to tackle this, an ‘enabling environment’ is key.
“Very often individuals must change their lifestyles, and that is true. But what is more true is that together we have the responsibility to ensure an enabling environment,” she said. “An environment within which people can live healthy lifestyles, an environment where their foods do not contain high salt levels or high sugar levels or high trans-fat levels, that we have possibility for physical activities in our communities and our schools.”
She pointed to “legislation and taxation that seeks to limit or stop the use of tobacco and the excessive use of alcohol.”
“That we have rules and legislation against the excessive use of alcohol, against the sale of alcohol to minors, for tobacco as well, and we have those laws that are enforced,” she stated. “So it’s not enough to have the laws on the books, we have to ensure that they are enforced. There needs to be a movement across all sections of the society.”
Minister for Health, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, who also addressed the press conference, said the Ministry is aware of the alarming statistics.
“Yes we are aware of it. That’s why we concentrate on prevention, at the primary care level,” he said adding that Dominica has “lagged a bit” in terms of implementing some of the mentioned measures.
“I think slowly but surely cabinet, as an entity, is beginning to understand the linkages or the cohesion that needs to exist as it pertains to health care,” he said.