Non-Communicable Diseases at Epidemic Proportions in Barbados

The Barbados Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition says COVID-19 must be seen as a wake-up call for Barbados and that plans to “build back better” must include evidence-based policies to reduce the pandemic of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) among Barbados’ population.

This comes as more than 90 per cent of Barbadians who succumbed to COVID-19 in Barbados had co- morbidities.

Chairman of the Barbados Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition, Suleiman Bulbulia, said: “The struggle of those with NCDs and their ability to effectively fight off the Covid-19 virus is real. This must be a wake-up call for all Barbadians. Our coalition is desperately working for a healthier Barbados and recognises that it must start with our children.”

Bulbulia, who is also a Heart and Stroke Foundation Policy Champion for Childhood Obesity Prevention, further explained: “Getting rid of the factors that lead our young men and women to have NCDs is our priority. This virus can be beaten if we take our health and well-being seriously.”

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It is estimated that 83 per cent of deaths in Barbados are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and one in three children in Barbados is overweight or obese. Research also shows that 1 in 5 adult Barbadians has diabetes, 66 per cent of adults are overweight, and 33 per cent are obese. These alarming statistics have been major causes of concern for those in the medical fraternity, as the country continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Natasha Sobers, Lecturer in Epidemiology with the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre (GACDRC)/CAIHR and Principal Investigator, Barbados National Registry for NCDs, speaking about the issue of the incidence of NCDs and COVID-19 in Barbados said: “One thing we have learnt is that the fight to prevent deaths from COVID-19 is inextricably linked to our fight to prevent and control NCDs.”

She further noted: “Persons with NCDs like hypertension, heart disease and obesity are more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 and thus the principles of equity dictate that maintaining good management and control of these conditions must be prioritized along with vaccine protection.”

The non-communicable disease (NCD) burden of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Barbados is approximately $BBD 64 million per year.

The Barbados Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition, which is in its second year of existence, comprises a cross-section of civil society organisations (CSOs) including health based CSOs and non-health interest groups including faith-based organisations, sports organisations, youth and parent-teacher organisations. 

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