WHEN it comes to the fight against COVID-19, our past failings are coming back to haunt us.
In today’s Tribune, we report on findings that obesity increases the risk of COVID-19 deaths by almost half. As our former Minister of Health, Dr Duane Sands, pointed out, The Bahamas has been named the sixth most obese country in the world.
We know this, of course. We’ve long known this. Our diet isn’t the healthiest, our exercise routines aren’t always the strongest to balance out against what we eat. Beyond that, The Bahamas has a wide income disparity, and people struggling to get by have the diet they can afford – they’re eating to survive, and that’s not always the healthiest meals.
There has long been talk of how co-morbidities increase the risk from catching COVID-19, but this study pretty definitively reveals the extent of such risk.
It’s not as if we haven’t known obesity increases health risks already – it’s just that collectively we haven’t done enough to tackle it.
Last year, Dr Sands said more than 70 percent of the population is overweight. That’s more than two out of every three people in the country.
In the current conditions, it will be very difficult indeed for some to ensure the right diet – but there’s always a reason not to start, and it never helps to put it off until tomorrow.
Today, current Minister of Health Renward Wells will be at a press conference – so how about it, minister? What’s your plan to launch a national anti-obesity campaign? Ignoring the problem hasn’t made it go away, so lead the way, and see if a healthier nation can follow.
A not-so-daily dashboard
Speaking of the Ministry of Health, this week has seen the daily dashboards getting later and later. These, of course, provide details of the number of new cases and, unfortunately, updates on deaths.
At one point, we were told that they hadn’t been approved for release – which begs the question who is failing to give approval? Sometimes it isn't coming out until the next day.
We have no explanation for why there might be a delay in approval. We hope it’s not to prevent the information being communicated clearly to the public by the media.
Whatever the reason, it’s not good enough. The public needs to know where we are in the fight – and delays just make it look like the ministry is being overwhelmed in this battle.
Don't play the drug dealers' game
In today’s Tribune, you can read about a 67-year-old Swiss man guilty of importing $50,000 worth of cocaine who is being sent back to his country after being sentenced to time served, for the nine months he spent on remand.
Yesterday, readers may recall that we reported on a 73-year-old Spanish woman released for deportation after five months in custody, after smuggling 12 pounds of cocaine.
In both cases, Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes commented on the age of those appearing before him, urging the Spanish woman to exercise “a little more due diligence” and saying of the Swiss man that it “befuddled” him why senior citizens were willing to take trips to participate in illicit activities.
We would contrast their short time in custody with the amount of time some Bahamians end up spending in prison after being caught with only a small amount of marijuana.
Perhaps the age of these drug mules might be one of the reasons they are chosen so they get a lighter treatment? And shouldn’t we have reciprocal agreements in place with nations to ensure that when people do break the laws so flagrantly they can be deported back to their home nation to serve the rest of their sentence there?
The handlers of drug mules are using senior citizens just so they can play on our courts’ sympathies – we should find ways to ensure we’re not playing their game.