Ministers of Health Promote Lifestyle Change

Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 06, 2016 (SKNIS): Charting a different treatment approach to chronic illnesses was the subject of four-day Better Health Begins with Me Leader Training Workshop that commenced this morning (September 05, 2016).

Pertaining to Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which fall under the mantle of chronic illnesses, Senator and Minister responsible for Health, Honourable Wendy Phipps, said that while much has been said locally pertaining to preventative methods and maintenance of health, a large number of residents still die from the conditions. She noted that persons who suffer from these illnesses often are depressed.

“When we look at what is going on in St. Kitts and Nevis as it relates to NCDs, it is often easy to forget that mental illness is part and parcel of that,” Minister Phipps said. “I’m very heartened that that was part of the study, that will be part of the approach that you will be taking over the next four days. For some, we can be safe to assume that mental illness might be a precursor to NCDs because depending on what you’re going through mentally you might play that out in issues such as overeating and other issues that will result in obesity, kidney failure etc.”

Minister of State Phipps also reminded that next year was the 10th Anniversary of the Port of Spain Convention when the “Caribbean declared war on NCDs.” As part of the effort to increases physical activity, residents were encouraged to take part in the Caribbean Wellness Day walk, jog or cycle event that takes place from Sandy Point to Basseterre and Tabernacle to Basseterre at the same time this Saturday (September 10, 2016).

Honourable Eugene Hamilton, Minister of Health, likewise emphasized that lifestyles drive illness such as NCDs. He noted that 20 percent of adults, one in every five has diabetes, while over 20 children suffer from the same condition. Thirty-four percent of adults, one in three was said to have high blood pressure; while 75 percent of adults, three out of four, and 50 percent of children, one out of two, are overweight or obese. He added that five percent of the population has mental disorders. He encouraged residents to focus on prevention.

“Shouldn’t we be focusing more on prevention, shouldn’t we put our resources into prevention, this exercise tells us that in my view,” Minister Hamilton said. “The data shows that within six weeks the programme changed habits of some persons. It means if we put more emphasis in promotion, we can change lifestyles and reduce the incidents of the illnesses and disease.”

Minister Hamilton revealed that he was on the verge of introducing a comprehensive national health insurance, however, he wanted to ensure that the system will not be abused.

“I want to be sure that when persons access the service it is because they really need to, not because their lifestyle overly causes them to do so. I already know that the comprehensive health insurance will save some lives…. that is why Minister Phipps and I have been working to get the oncology unit. While that is a treatment, we want to do something about the lifestyle that prevents it. But yes, while the disease comes on you, we want to be able to help you treat it, that is why we’re working on that oncology unit.”

Mention was also made of accidents caused by reckless driving and emergency procedures needed to treat gunshot victims, that cost the Ministry of Health much in resources.

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