Recently the Barbados government trumpeted the appointment of Dr. Trevor Hassell who is the new Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases Czar, the official title conferred is Special Envoy for Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) in Barbados.
It is no secret Barbados has been struggling to curb the rising number of Barbadians afflicted with CNCDs. BU despite the preponderance of evidence remains optimistic that Dr. Hassell’s appointment in addition to the focus it will bring on CNCDs will yield positive results. If we can compare against the success of Dr. Carol Jacobs who was appointed Czar of HIV and AIDS fifteen years ago, the jury is still out on whether Barbados has been successful in significantly curbing HIV/AIDS penetration.
The sad reality however is that the growing number of Barbadians suffering from CNCDs is probably linked to lifestyle behaviour which is a global trend. There is a media report which suggests: “the number of adults who have been diagnosed with diabetes worldwide has more than doubled since 1980 to 347 million, a far larger number than previously thought, a new study has found.” Diabetes is just one of many CNCDs which is giving cause for concern for a few in Barbados. It is a problem which continues to strike at the national purse given our ‘free’ healthcare policy.
The challenge for Minister of Health Donville Inniss and Barbadians is that we live in times where the KFC brand is recognizable to a 2 year old even before being able to utter their name. If we accept that we now live in a time where to eat fast food is as normal as drinking water, please tell us how how Dr. Hassell, Minister Inniss or any other member of Homo sapiens will be able to successfully turn the CNCDs situation around in Barbados? One is left to wonder if it is all not simply a PR gimmick to satisfy a society in denial that we are following the script.
A key characteristic of modern society is the need to deliver convenience. The time needed to prepare home cooked meals, cultivate a backyard garden, shop at farmgates, walk short distances instead of using the motor car, limiting the use of pesticides and herbicides in the environment and other activities which support a healthy lifestyle do not factor in the current design.
The love of money is said to be the root of all evil but based on the current trend, lifestyle appears to be a fierce rival.