Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, yesterday, said non-communicable diseases (NCDs) had the potential to bankrupt healthcare systems both locally and around the world.
Speaking to Sunday Newsday after St Augustine Girls’ High School’s Annual Walkathon and Health Fair, Deyalsingh said governments were spending exorbitant sums of money to treat NCD patients, particularly those with diabetes. The problem, he said, has created a financial burden for many governments.
“The cost to treat people is phenomenal,” Deyalsingh said.
The minister said he was pleased the school had taken ownership of the Government’s NCD plan.
“This plan needs to be adopted by everyone across the country and it is so nice to see young people taking ownership of this plan.
“They are going to be the change agents in society to encourage their parents now to eat better and see about their health because the NCD problem we have in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean and the world is very, very serious.”
Deyalsingh said the NCD plan was about changing the manner in which health issues are addressed - from a treatment based, reactive model to a preventative, proactive one
Theme of the walkathon fundraiser was Live Life At Ease Without Diabetes.
Reema Carmona, wife of President Anthony Carmona, led the walkathon. She was accompanied by Deyalsingh, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Opposition MPs Prakash Ramadhar and Fazal Karim and more than 600 participants. Education Minister Anthony Garcia arrived after the walkathon but participated in the health fair.
Ramadhar said such events promoted positive change.
“Anything that would lead to a healthier lifestyle for our children in particular but not limited to the children, I think is very much to be embraced and I am happy to have participated,” he said.
“I saw the brotherliness because this is an issue that affects us across all and when we understand we have common bonds and common interests, I think it strengthens our ability to make positive change.”
Parent-Teacher Association president Sharifa Ali-Abdullah said the school’s students embraced the theme.
“Initially, some people felt it may not have been a theme that is relatable to young girls, may not be as cool. But they actually embraced the theme and came up with the slogan,” she said.
“It is important to make those lifestyle changes at an early age because our tastes for sugary foods and drinks are developed early in life and those are habits that are hard to break.
“I think it is really very difficult for people to switch when they are accustomed eating all the nice Trini foods and we have lots of foods that may not be the most healthy - rotis, bakes, doubles and soft drinks. “So it was with this in mind to really help the girls to embrace the sugar free foods and really develop healthy lifestyles.”