HEALTH and Wellness Minister Dr Michael Darville.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
ISCHEMIC heart disease is the number one cause of death in the country, according to Health Minister Dr Michael Darville.
Yesterday he called the situation “alarming” and a major concern.
“The leading cause of death in our country is no longer HIV,” he told Parliament. “It is ischemic heart disease that is directly related to non-communicable disease. This is a concern and my colleague for Englerston, every time she sees me, she says, ‘doctor D, you’re doing all these things, but what are you doing for non-communicable diseases?’ How are we going to get our people back on track? How are we going to prevent hypertension and diabetes that is (running) rampant wild in our country?’
“These statistics are very alarming and in this year’s budget, funding is available for behaviour modification programmes that will promote lifestyle changes to improve medical outcomes for our population. You know I have been around for some time and I could tell you that we have many people suffering from non-communicable diseases. The COVID pandemic prevented a lot of them from getting the necessary care, in some instances their medication.”
“So, it means that we have an unstable patient who needs constant care and who is not getting the care and when he or she does not get the care, they end up in the hospital. Our hospitals are bursting from the seams.”
“Primary healthcare and close monitoring of these individuals in the community helps the Ministry of Health and prevents these individuals from showing up and taking beds that are preventable if we do what we need to do in the community.
“The adequate provision of primary healthcare is the backbone of healthcare delivery services because it focuses on prevention and management of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
“The Department of Public health must no longer be left behind and will be mandated to produce medical and epidemiological data and trends of diseases that will be used to guide my ministry and our Cabinet to adjust policies in favour of our people.”
“In this year’s budget, funding is available to deploy manpower resources, improve services at our primary healthcare facilities, prevent hospital admissions and reduce morbidity and mortality. That’s the reason why I’m here.”
He also addressed the infant mortality rate earlier in his speech.
“Also, it’s important to note that the preliminary data regarding immunization coverage for infants born in 2020 imply that the COVID pandemic impacted our immunisation programme for children two months to 15 months of age. The immunisation programme across the country is back on track and in collaboration with PAHO, we have activated an immunization digital platform so that we could do a better job throughout the country in monitoring what is happening with this programme.”
“The data for the period 1995 to 2019 reveal that our infant mortality rate at that time was 12.7 percent per hundred thousand live births. Since then, the infant mortality rate, excluding the year 1999, ranged from 14 percent of 1,000 live births in 1998.
“The data for 2018 to 2019 seems to suggest and this is alarming that our infant mortality rate was somewhere between 17.5 per cent to 19.4 percent per one hundred thousand live births. This is a problem for us and we need to move quickly to address this issue.”
He also said: “The death rate among infants and children less than 14 years proves to be on the rise as well and I want to say that we have funding in this budget that we’re able to get the necessary manpower resources so that we could be able to address the situation.”