Health stats shape-up policy

| 02/05/2012

Minister gets his numbers (228x300).jpg(CNS): The results of the first ever comprehensive health survey in the Cayman Islands will help to inform government policy on health issues and enable it to measure the effectiveness and success of future policies regarding non-communicable diseases. Speaking at the launch of the country’s first health survey, the health minister said that high quality health statistics are essential for planning and implementing health policy. Mark Scotland announced that the health risk survey was a priority and that it would start on Monday, 14 May. Despite the many other issues of national importance, Scotland said Cayman could not afford to neglect the growing epidemic of chronic disease.

“Presently there are many other urgent national issues on the agenda, making it easyto forget just how big a problem chronic disease has become,” he said at Monday's launch. “Chronic non-communicable disease is a silent and growing epidemic that, if left untended, could strain our healthcare system — and resources — severely. 

The minister explained that measuring the risk factor data was crucial for predicting the future burden of chronic disease on the local population and to identifying potential interventions to reduce the future burden.

He said the survey should have been done years ago but now sixty enumerators had been trained and would going out into the community to visit a selected sample of households. They will collect information on demographics, alcohol use, fruits and vegetables consumption, physical inactivity and tobacco smoking. At the same time, enumerators will take measurements on weight, height, waist circumference and blood pressure. A smaller sample will also be selected for biochemical measurements of blood glucose and total cholesterol, which will be done at the Cayman Islands Hospital.

Although some health questions had been asked on the recent national census, the minister explained that this survey will gather more specific information on health risks as well as on specific non-communicable disease indicators which can be used to assess the predisposing factors to these deadly diseases.

“This will allow us to establish a baseline for the country, and since it is being done using WHO methodology, we can then compare with other countries. The survey will be updated in the future and we will then be able to measure the success of policies and strategies that were implemented,” Scotland said.

He pointed out that the burden of chronic disease across the Caribbean was growing rapidly and ailments such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and respiratory diseases were now the leading causesof death. The census has already revealed that high numbers of people are living with high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma in the Cayman Islands.

“Locally, we have already invested in strengthening healthcare delivery to patients with chronic illnesses by launching the primary health care programme CayHealth. Over time, this programme is envisaged to provide better outcomes to patients suffering from chronic illnesses while also saving resources. An added bonus of this programme is the fact that it allows us to track non-communicable diseases in a target population, giving us vital health statistics for future planning,” he stated.

Scotland also revealed that the first stakeholders’ meeting for developing a National Health Policy would be held this week. “This meeting’s purpose is to create an overarching, guiding policy that outlines what our vision, goals and objectives are for our nation’s health,” he said. “Unlike for the flu and other viruses, there are no vaccines against chronic diseases. Instead, the solution lies in education, prevention and management of these illnesses,” Scotland added.

Officials encouraged members of the public that are selected to participate in the survey to cooperate and provide the information to the enumerators, which will be held in the strictest confidence but will be used to help make Cayman a healthier nation.

See more details about the project on the website: www.ministry of nation

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  1. Knot S Smart says:

    The Minister has high blood pressure now too?

    I would suggest getting a Filipina helper to keep himself calm…

    Oh DEAR.. What am I getting into here…

    I almost forgot that a hot water bag also has a calming affect…

    He should just be thankful its only high blood pressure…


  2. Anonymous says:

    I support the gathering of health statistics. Good quality statistics can help shape the policies and budgets that surround health care. If you need to spend money, spend it where it will do the most good.


    However, you do not need statistics to aggressively promote a healthy life style that includes a good quality diet and exercise. Simple diet and exercise will go a long way in reducing the burden on the health care system.

  3. Anonymous says:

    is that a Polygraph? oh wait… darn.

  4. Anonymous says:

    zzzzzz…..what a load of waffle……. they'll be talking about the smae things in 5 years time…