15 September 2007
Crowne Plaza Trinidad Hotel
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Stemming the Tide of Non-Communicable Diseases In the Caribbean


•   The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over 35 million people per year die of chronic disease, which is about 60 per cent of all deaths, and double the number dying from all infectious diseases, maternal and perinatal (Five months prior to birth and one month after) conditions, combined.

•   Globally and in the Caribbean, the chronic diseases of concern are heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. These are caused by biological factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, high blood sugar, and high blood cholesterol.

•   In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), chronic diseases are now the leading cause of premature mortality, accounting for nearly half of deaths of persons under 70 years, and for two out of three deaths overall.

•   The Caribbean is the Region of the Americas worst affected by the epidemic of chronic disease. The human and economic cost burden of these conditions is not sustainable and could undermine the development of these small, fragile countries.

•   The chronic diseases of greatest importance in the Americas Region are: cardiovascular disease (including hypertension, ischaemic heart disease and stroke), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

•   Chronic diseases contributed to almost 50 per cent of disability-adjusted life years lost in the Region.

•   In the first decade of the 21st century, cardiovascular diseases are expected to claim 20.7 million lives in the Americas . Predictions for the next 20 years include a tripling of heart disease and stroke mortality in Latin America.

•   Hypertension is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease and affects 8-30 per cent of the population.

•   Cancer accounts for 20 per cent of chronic disease mortality and in 2002, there were an estimated 459,000 deaths due to cancer , a 33 per cent increase since 1990, with major increases projected to 2020. 35 million people in the Region are currently affected by diabetes, and the WHO forecasts an increase to 64 million by 2025 .

•   Heart diseases, stroke, cancer, diabetes are the main causes of death in the Caribbean

•   Diabetes and hypertension contribute significantly to heart disease and stroke

•   Diabetes is a major cause of admissions to hospital, kidney failure, blindness and limb amputations

•   Risk factors include obesity, smoking, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and alcohol abuse

•   Over one billion people are overweight or obese in the world today.

•   Tobacco consumption is the single leading risk for avoidable death in the Americas, causing over one million deaths each year. Approximately one-third of all deaths from heart disease and cancer can be attributed to tobacco

•   The societal costs of diabetes in Latin America and the Caribbean were estimated at $US65 billion in 2000.

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