Speaking at a recent event, the junior Minister responsible for Health in St. Kitts and Nevis, Senator Wendy Phipps, said “When we look at what is going on in St. Kitts and Nevis as it relates to NCDs, it is often easy to forget that mental illness is part and parcel of that,”
During the start of a four day workshop earlier this week, Minister Phipps said she is very heartened that a recent study examined the connection between NCDs and mental health. The subject is also part of the workshop which opened on Monday 5th September, on the subject, “Charting a different treatment approach to chronic illnesses.”
For some, stated Phipps, We can be safe to assume that mental illness might be a precursor to NCDs because depending on what you’re going through mentally you might play that out in issues such as over-eating and other issues that will result in obesity, kidney failure etc.”
The junior health Minister indicated that when it comes to Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which fall under the mantle of chronic illnesses, while much has been said locally pertaining to preventative methods and maintenance of health, a large number of residents still die from the conditions.
She noted that persons who suffer from these illnesses often are depressed.
Similar concerns were raised at the workshop by Phipps’ boss and colleague, Eugene Hamilton, who is the Minister of Health.
Hamilton likewise emphasized that lifestyles drive illnesses such as NCDs. He noted that 20 percent of adults, one in every five have diabetes, while over 20 children suffer from the same condition.
Thirty-four percent of adults, one in three was said to have high blood pressure; while 75 percent of adults, three out of four, and 50 percent of children, one out of two, are overweight or obese. He added that five percent of the population has mental disorders. He encouraged residents to focus on prevention.
“Shouldn’t we be focusing more on prevention, shouldn’t we put our resources into prevention, this exercise tells us that in my view,” Minister Hamilton said.
“The data shows that within six weeks the programme changed habits of some persons. It means if we put more emphasis in promotion, we can change lifestyles and reduce the incidents of the illnesses and disease.”
Minister Hamilton revealed that he was on the verge of introducing a comprehensive national health insurance; however, he wanted to ensure that the system will not be abused.
“I want to be sure that when persons access the service it is because they really need to, not because their lifestyle overly causes them to do so. I already know that the comprehensive health insurance will save some lives…. that is why Minister Phipps and I have been working to get the oncology unit. While that is a treatment, we want to do something about the lifestyle that prevents it. But yes, while the disease comes on you, we want to be able to help you treat it, that is why we’re working on that oncology unit.”