Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Helen Royer is appealing for an all hands on deck approach in dealing with the upsurge in the Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCD), particularly obesity.
She said Dominica is experiencing an upsurge in CNCDs and “of significant note is the risk factors of obesity.”
Records show that there is an increasing trend in childhood obesity and there is a significant growth of the disease in the Caribbean within the past five decades.
“This is indicative for a need for drastic steps to curb this problem,” Royer said at a press conference following a Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) 12th Executive Board Meeting which took place at the Fort Young Hotel on Thursday.
She stated there must be a multi-stakeholder approach to the issue.
“It is therefore very clear that a multi-stakeholder approach including the private sector, government and civil society would be mandatory to address these complex problems of CNCD’s and their risk factors,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary also said that there is evidence that the Dominican population is not consuming enough fruits and vegetables.
Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control at CARPHA, Dr. Barbatunde Olowokure, remarked that the Caribbean region has seen a rise in obesity and other related CNCD’s in the past five decades.
“More than 60 per cent of Caribbean adults and more than seven per cent of Caribbean children are overweight,” he pointed out. “More than half of the adult population in some of the CARPHA member states suffer from metabolic syndrome. That is the presence of at least three of the four major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.”
He bemoaned that these pose a significant drain on the economies in the Caribbean region and noted that the economic burden of diabetes and high pretension (high blood pressure) alone is estimated at between 1.4 to 8 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In 2011 a World Bank-funded study revealed Dominica has the highest obesity prevalence in the Eastern Caribbean and in 2010 Dominica was ranked 11 of the 20 most obese countries on earth by the World Health Organization.
According to a CARPHA, it is anticipated that by 2019 governments in the region will help in tackling the issue and will be able to:
-Provide children with more supportive environments for physical activity and healthy eating;
-Provide appropriate incentives to discourage unhealthy consumption patterns and to create and encourage healthier dietary choices;
-Empower communities to embrace active living and healthful eating;
-Provide parents and children with accurate information about food, nutrition and exercise to enable informed decisions;
-Provide the necessary care and support to our children who are affected by overweight/obesity and to ensure that they are safeguarded from bias and stigmatization associated with their condition;
-Ensure that systems within Governments have the capacity to mount effective responses and that multi-sectoral cooperation is fostered;
-Have data available for tracking the movement of the epidemic and for measuring and assessing results.