INDEPENDENT Senator Charrise Seepersad on Tuesday lamented that 30 per cent of admissions to TT's hospitals were due to diabetes and urged more consumption of wholesome, locally-grown foodstuffs, speaking in the Senate on the Mid Year Budget Review, known as the Finance (Supplementation and Variation of Appropriation) (Financial Year 2023) Act, 2023.
Speaking about the bill's $40 million extra allocation to the health services support programme which rises from $20 million to $60 million, she expressed her deep concerns about hypertension and diabetes.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can reduce a patient's blood flow, so raising the risk of woes such as heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and vision loss.
Diabetes, due to excess sugar in a patient's blood stream, can cause organ damage.
Seepersad said TT has one of the region's highest rates of hypertension, 2.5 per cent above the Caribbean average.
"About 25.8 per cent of people in TT suffer from hypertension and most do not know they are suffering from this disease.
"Of the people who know, 60 per cent receive treatment and only 30 per cent of them are controlled."
She blamed hypertension on lifestyle issues namely physical inactivity, consumption of processed foods including too much salt, excessive consumption of alcohol, cigarette smoking, and obesity. "Diabetes is another non communicable disease, which affects about 14.5 per cent of the population, with 88-90 per cent of patients having type two diabetes. Diabetics are about 30 per cent of all hospital cases."
Seepersad urged the Ministries of Health and Agriculture to collaborate to expand the supply of locally-grown nutritious foods that constitute a healthy diet and a shift in consumption towards them.
"We need to invest in agriculture.
"Food system transformation should be aimed at reducing the cost of nutritious foods and increasing the availability and affordability of healthy diets with sustainability and leaving no one behind."
Regarding crime, she said the population needed to be reassured by evidence that the protective services were winning but said information in the public domain did not support such a scenario. Seepersad wondered how effective the budget allocations of $3.3 billion to the Ministry of National Security and $2.5 billion to the police service would be in stemming the current surge in violent crime. She said the country needed a preventative not reactionary approach to crime, which she said was a moving target needing to be tackled by many and varied prongs on attack.