Health officials to expand fight against CNCDs

Dr. Hubert Minnis, MP and Minister of Health

Nassau , The Bahamas – Public Health officials will expand their efforts in the fight against chronic, non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) in 2011, Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis said recently.

Dr. Minnis said CNCDs such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular diseases continued to be the leading causes of illness, hospitalisation and death among Bahamians over the course of the year 2010.

The Health Minister said HIV/AIDS, asthma, arthritis, obesity, injury and violence also played major roles. He said public health officials will introduce increased health promotion and illness prevention strategies to address all of these areas in 2011.

Officials of the Ministry of Health, the Department of Public Health and the National Insurance Board will also launch an intensive healthy people’s programme in the New Year that is designed to create a culture of wellness in our population.

“These new strategies will be critical in helping to reduce the incidences and prevalence of these illnesses and diseases that reduce our work force and limit the quality of life for our citizens,” Dr. Minnis said.

The Health Minister said healthcare professionals at the Elizabeth Estates Clinic this year began routine surveillance for the early detection of diabetes and hypertension for all first-time clients.

Dr. Minnis said the monitoring and evaluation of clients with existing chronic, non-communicable diseases has reduced the incidence of secondary complications, thereby reducing the need for hospitalisation – meaning that the measure has been “very effective.”

“Pro-active health initiatives such as these are critical in our fight against chronic diseases,” the Health Minister said.

Dr. Minnis said the Government’s introduction of the National Chronic Disease Prescription Drug Plan in September, 2010, through the National Insurance Board, will also play a vital role in reversing the trends.

The First Phase of the drug plan provides access to drugs and supplies for the 11 identified non- communicable diseases in the public and private sector at no out-of-pocket cost to the most vulnerable Bahamians.

Figures show that more than 1,300 persons have taken advantage of these services in the public sector, and 14,000 more at private participating pharmacies. Reports further show that persons are continuing to register with the programme.

“In the next few weeks, the National Insurance Board, the Ministry of Health and the Department of Public Health will launch an intensive healthy people’s programme to create a culture of wellness in our population,” Dr. Minnis said.

“Additionally, the Department of Public Health will implement new initiatives to strengthen health promotion, health education, and training for clients and health care providers in the successful management and prevention, of not only the 11 identified diseases covered under this Plan, but other conditions as well,” Dr. Minnis added.