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by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer
The leading cause of death in Jamaica is non-communicable diseases. Here are the reasons behind this and lifestyle changes to prevent it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of premature death in the Caribbean, accounting for significantly more deaths than the global average of 70%.
In Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda, and Barbados, for example, noncommunicable diseases account for 80% of deaths, compared to the global average of 70%.
The leading NCD-related causes of mortality for women in 2021, were hypertensive illnesses, cerebrovascular diseases, and diabetes mellitus. External causes, cerebrovascular disorders, and diabetes mellitus were the top three killers of men.
The four most common risk factors for NCDs—tobacco use, physical inactivity, hazardous alcohol use, and poor diets—are the leading killers, morbidities, and disabilities in the Caribbean. NCDs share these common, modifiable behavioural risk factors.
High levels of obesity are brought on by little regard for physical activity and an imbalanced diet. Childhood obesity is two to three times more common here than the global norm.
By 2030, it is anticipated that 24% of children in Bermuda, 23% of children in the Bahamas and Dominica, and 22% of children in Barbados, Jamaica, and Saint Kitts & Nevis (ages 5 to 19) will be obese.
The most recent data indicate that approximately 2,400 people die annually from stroke-related causes. Strokes are the main cause of mortality in Jamaica, accounting for 82 fatalities per 100,000 residents, about twice the murder rate.
The cumulative incidence of deaths from COVID-19 disease from January 2020 to December 2021 is still only half that of the number of stroke-related deaths for that period.
Why is stroke so prevalent in Jamaica?
The Jamaican population has a high prevalence of many stroke risk factors, including diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. More than 68% of stroke victims have high blood pressure, 31% have diabetes, and 27% smoke.
Nearly 40% of Jamaicans over 15 have high blood pressure, with women more likely than men to have it (36%) than men (32 per cent).
Overweight and obese individuals make up 54% of Jamaicans aged 15 or older, while childhood obesity has increased by 68% over the past seven years. Additionally, too many Jamaicans do not exercise.
What is being done about it?
A significant public-private endeavour was developed in 2020 with business Jamaica and healthcare specialists creating the Jamaica Stroke Alliance. They have made an effort to put into practice the IV thrombolysis at the University Hospital of the West Indies' acute stroke treatment procedures.
The Ministry of Health has conducted studies to identify critical challenges in dealing with stroke; the lack of stroke centres, difficulties for patients in rural areas, patchy ambulance coverage, limited CT scanning availability, cost and availability of tPa (tissue plasminogen activator), insufficient number of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals with stroke-specific training, and lack of public awareness of what to do when someone is having a stroke, were some of the major issues found.
They now have several initiatives on the way to tackle these issues and the front of the package labels is one of them. Customers can exercise their right to know what is in their food through the FOPL.
They are striving to ban trans fats made industrially and to create an education campaign to promote a more health-conscious society. Additionally, they developed a school nutrition policy.
Additionally, they are nearing the completion of legislation to regulate Jamaican tobacco use, a significant stroke risk factor.
With a few lifestyle changes, these issues can easily be reversed.
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Leading Cause of Death in Jamaica | Written: November 23, 2022