Economic burden of non communicable diseases

A chronic non communicable disease is a parasite on public and personal finances wherever it’s prevalent. The Caribbean region is in no way left out. In less than 30 years, the major causes of death and disability in the region has shifted from communicable diseases to chronic non communicable diseases (CNCD).  Governments throughout the region are grappling with servicing the burden of this problem especially at these austere times. The cost burden of CNCD such as Type 2 diabetes and hypertension runs into millions of dollars. These are diseases that have significant systemic complications which further compounds the economic and social burden. It is known that these diseases are hugely linked to lifestyle issues and mostly self inflicted. It must be noted however that ignorance is also costly. Majority of sufferers do not have sufficient idea about their condition hence the high rate of non-compliance with required treatment. Desperate situation requires desperate action. It is now time for a decisive and aggressive approach in dealing with these debilitating conditions. Investing in public education, functioning primary care and intentional integration of primary, secondary and tertiary care would be worthwhile. Dealing with this economic burden is a job for everybody – governments, health practitioners, NGO’s, Private sector and the citizens. There is urgent need in improving the quality of care across the board. Evidence-based practice should now be the norm for health practitioners. Governmental bodies and institutions should then be advised along this line. It is obvious that the level of investment varies from one Caribbean country to another but the onus is on every government to make this a priority. Reducing this economic and social burden is beneficial to governments as well as the citizens. Governments and institutions must be prepared to give necessary and adequate resources to this cause. It is imperative that citizens take ownership for their own health. Citizens must be willing to challenge each other if engaging in unhealthy lifestyles – brothers looking out for fellow brothers. Alleviating poverty will be a huge step in combating CNCD. Our people are our greatest assets and investing in their care should be a priority.


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