KINGSTON — The Ministry of Health has been commended for taking steps toward developing a national strategic plan to combat chronic non-communicable diseases.
This commendation was extended by Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Representative in Jamaica, Dr. Hugo Prado-Monje, at the opening of a two-day workshop, titled ‘National Consultation on Strategic Plan for Non-Communicable Diseases’, at the Wyndham Hotel, in New Kingston, on September 6.
Dr. Prado-Monje said the development and realisation of a road map for the prevention and control of chronic non-communicable diseases and their risk factors was critical for the continued prosperity of most developing states.
He noted that according to the Global Status Report on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) 2010, NCDs are the leading cause of death globally, killing more people each year than all other ailments combined.
“Out of 55 million deaths in 2008, approximately 36 million were due to non-communicable diseases, chief among them cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung problems,” he informed. “This has continued to increase, especially in low and middle income countries, where nearly 80 per cent of non-communicable diseases occur,” he added.
Dr. Prado-Monje said the findings in Jamaica are consistent with this global picture, noting that in light of the challenges and the CARICOM/Port of Spain Declaration of September 2007 on Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and PAHO started working on an NCD strategic plan in late 2009.
He pointed out that the two-day meeting is the latest in a series of consultations being held by the MOH and PAHO, in line with the development of the strategic plan.
“It is also significant that this consultation is taking place in light of the upcoming United Nations High Level Meeting on chronic non-communicable diseases, slated to take place from September 19 to 20 in New York,” he said.
The PAHO/WHO representative congratulated the MOH for bringing together over 20 public and private sector entities to the consultation.
Among the entities involved are: the Jamaica Council of Churches, Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, National Environment and Planning Agency, the National Health Fund, the Planning Institute of Jamaica, as well as members of other selected professional groups.
In the meantime, Medical Epidemiologist, Chronic Diseases and Injuries Prevention, Dr. Tamu Davidson, noted that globally, the NCD epidemic continues to spiral out of control, and noted that while there is suitable treatment available for most illnesses, such treatment is expensive.
“In terms of the global priority, we know that we have effective treatment for chronic diseases; however, this is going to require considerable political leadership to implement this,” she said.
“There have been some successes, such as in the case of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, but the risk factor continues to spiral out of control; so even though we know what is required, we still haven’t been able to contain it,” she added.
Dr. Davidson pointed out that the global costs associated with treating NCDs are “catastrophic,” pointing out that this is one of the main obstacles for small developing states.
“The cost is a significant burden on the government, not just on the health sector in terms of direct cost, but also consuming a lot of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” she said.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter