Working group addresses lifestyle illnesses like Diabetes

Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): The health of the residents of St. Kitts and Nevis, in particular those suffering from lifestyle illnesses, will be tackled by a Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) working group.

The working group, termed a National Coordinating Mechanism, will be put in place to establish the actions of an NCD National Policy and Plan for Prevention and Control.

According to Petrinella Edwards, St. Kitts and Nevis Non-Communicable Disease Coordinator, the National Coordinating Mechanism will review activities including arranging for a body to monitor the activities and determine their level of success.

“The NCD Coordinating Mechanism is a multi-sectoral group that provides support in the implementation of the NCD policy,” Ms. Edwards noted. “It consists of individuals or organisations from all segments of society such as tertiary-level education institutions, sporting establishments, civil society and so forth. This is reflective of the fact that the activities that fall under the umbrella of the policy and plan are expected to be executed by various individuals and entities within the St. Kitts and Nevis society.”

Previously, the bulk of the work pertaining to the establishment of programmes to encourage residents to lead healthy lifestyles was left chiefly up to the Ministry of Health, now NCD programmes specifically, will become a societal effort with the Coordinating Mechanism at the helm.

According to the 2013 to 2017 policy document – conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and certain types of cancer have caused two percent of the earnings from the Federation’s economic activity or Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to be used to cover costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation rather than the intended growth and development activities.

As such, it is necessary to pay more attention to illnesses that are chiefly influenced by the type of foods that are eaten, the amount of exercise that is done, the amount of body weight that is culturally accepted, even the amount of stress that is allowed into one’s life. All of this is to be done in the context of the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.

Therefore, the policy’s scope covers the risk factors, outcomes and impact of heart diseases, cancers, chronic breathing conditions and diabetes.

As outlined by the NCD policy and plan, local groups and organizations are encouraged to come up with creative methods of providing information on all Chronic NCDs with a focus on explaining some of the unhealthy traditions and testing to identify persons at risk for the disease or disorder. Information on necessary healthcare and regular activities to restore health which attempts to remedy or function with the damage caused by the illness should also be included. The NCD Coordinating Mechanism will have to be advised of any such activity to ensure that it meets the guidelines of the policy as well as the needs of the residents of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The policy also speaks to training that will be provided at least annually. Diet and physical exercise was also highlighted as a specific component as “food, nutrition and physical activity are cornerstones in the prevention, treatment and control of specific NCDs.”

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