Ministry Releases Health and Lifestyle Survey

Photo: Donald De La Haye Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (right), in discussion with (from left): Principal Medical Officer and National Epidemiologist, Ministry of Health, Dr. Karen Webster-Kerr, and Professor Rainford Wilks, University of the West Indies. Occasion was the release of the preliminary key findings of the third Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey, at a media briefing held at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge and Conference Centre, University of the West Indies, on September 6.

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Health has released the preliminary key findings of the third Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey.
  • The findings were released today (September 6), at a media briefing held at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge and Conference Centre at the University of the West Indies.
  • The survey was done in collaboration with researchers from the Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR), with the goal being to estimate the current burden of, and risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCD), including intentional and unintentional injuries and chikungunya.

The Ministry of Health has released the preliminary key findings of the third Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey.

The findings were released today (September 6), at a media briefing held at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge and Conference Centre at the University of the West Indies.

The survey was done in collaboration with researchers from the Caribbean Institute for Health Research (CAIHR), with the goal being to estimate the current burden of, and risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCD), including intentional and unintentional injuries and chikungunya.

It will allow for comparisons with data from previous versions, in order to monitor trends in disease status, while it may also provide important baseline information on the health status of the population to guide future initiatives, programmes and policies.

In his address, Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, encouraged the relevant stakeholders to grasp as much of the data and to disseminate the information as much as possible as part of the critical role of advocacy.

“The thing with data is that it gives us a perspective that oftentimes can be justified around particular issues of concern; in this instance, of course, the NCD challenges that we face,” he said.
In terms of the findings, Dr. Tufton said they showed that one in three Jamaicans are affected by hypertension.

“We are going to see that one in two Jamaicans are obese or overweight [and] that one in eight Jamaicans have diabetes. In terms of the chikungunya virus, over 70 per cent of the population may have been affected and 50 per cent of that amount were affected sufficient to require medical attention,” he noted.

“All of which can be further drilled down to look at issues such as economic losses in terms of productivity, down time, cost to the public health system, and the pain and suffering of family and family members,” the Minister added.

The data showed that eight out of 10 Jamaicans had a positive serum (blood) test for \chikungunya (chik-V). The highest chik-V sero-prevalence was among age groups 15-24 years (85.9 per cent) and 65-74 years (85.6 per cent).

Portland, St. Thomas, Kingston and St. Andrew had the highest chik-V sero-prevalence, which was greater than 90 per cent.

In terms of the Zika virus (ZIKV), only six per cent of Jamaicans reported that they had Zika virus infection. The highest self-reported prevalence of ZIKV was among Jamaicans aged 45-54 years.

Regarding obesity rates, one in two Jamaicans (54 per cent) were classified as overweight (pre-obese or obese). The findings also showed that women were more affected by pre-obesity and obesity, with two-thirds of Jamaican women 15 years or older being classified as having pre-obesity or obesity.

To address the issue of obesity, Dr. Tufton said the Jamaica Moves programme will be going into the schools, where obesity levels have doubled over a seven-year period, as noted by the school health survey.

For violence and injuries, unintentional injuries were the most common cause of injuries requiring medical attention in the past 12 months. More men than women reported sustaining major injuries requiring medical attention, particularly unintentional road traffic injuries (1.8 per cent men, 0.4 per cent women).

Among Jamaicans 15 years and older, 7.8 per cent witnessed a violent act. Lifetime history of sexual abuse was 7.4 per cent (men 3.9 per cent; women 10.7 per cent) among Jamaicans 15 years and older. A neighbour/friend/acquaintance was the main perpetrator (43.8 per cent).

For substance abuse, current alcohol use was reported by 41 per cent of Jamaicans 15 years and older. Current alcohol use was highest in the 25-34 year age group, with six out of 10 males and four out of 10 females reporting.

Current use of tobacco products was reported by 15 per cent of Jamaicans, 15 years and older.

For diabetes, this was most prevalent among Jamaicans 75 years and older (42 per cent). Additionally, 12 per cent of Jamaicans had pre-diabetes, with a higher prevalence in women (13.3 per cent) than men (10.7 per cent), putting them at high risk of developing the disease.

The National Health Fund (NHF) was able to provide funding of $45.48

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