Jamaica: Leading cause of death now non-communicable diseases

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have emerged as the leading cause of death in Jamaica over the past 30 years.

That disclosure from Regional Health Promotion and Education Officer at the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), Marceleen Wheatle, who says the Ministry of Health is continuing its push to encourage healthy eating and physical activity as the primary tools in the fight against the NCDs, which include cardiovascular diseases, heart attack and stroke, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

“Physical activity plays a highly significant role in achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Increasing physical activity is a societal problem and not just an individual one that demands a population-based, multisectoral, multidisciplinary and culturally relevant approach,” she said.

Wheatle stressed that the prevalence of NCDs is increasing throughout the world and that in spite of the provision of public health education, many people are still not taking the matter seriously.

“NCDs have emerged as the leading cause of death globally, accounting for more than 50 per cent of deaths in developing countries and more than 80 per cent of deaths in developed countries,” she noted.

“These diseases share four common behavioural risk factors, namely, tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.”

She said the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that NCDs disproportionately affect people in low- and middle-income countries where more than three quarters of global NCD deaths occur.

Acting Parish Health and Promotion and Education Officer, Julian Grandison-Mullings, said the ‘Jamaica Moves’ campaign, which was recently launched by the Ministry of Health, has helped to capture people’s interest and keep physical activity on the health agenda.
She said the gains from the campaign will be reinforced through the staging of World Move for Health Day tomorrow.

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