Our Healthy & Happy Caribbean initiative is based in the CARICOM region which comprises over 15 nation states with a combined population of approximately 16 million people. This archipelago of Caribbean nations, share a common heritage of rich cultural traditions, breathtaking land and seascapes, and strong national pride. What they also share however is the prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases which are the leading causes of death in the territory. In fact, it is estimated that over 50% of deaths in the region are as a result of NCDs.
In Barbados (16.4%), Trinidad (12.7%), Jamaica (12.6%), and Belize (12.4%), diabetes is endemic. It is also estimated that 24% to 38% of adults between the ages 25 and 64 are diseased by hypertension.
The current prognosis is not good. The cost of treating hypertension and diabetes as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is staggering. It is estimated in The Bahamas to be 9.1%; in Barbados, nearly 5%; in Jamaica, 6%; and in Trinidad and Tobago, 8%. In 2001, the estimated burden for diabetes and hypertension alone was US$77m in Barbados, US$460m in Jamaica and US$754m in Trinidad and Tobago.
But there is hope. The good news is that these alarming figures and occurrences can be changed for the better. It is estimated that 80% of heart disease and diabetes, and 40% of cancers can be prevented by avoiding the known risk factors of smoking, alcohol, obesity, high cholesterol, poor dietary habits, and lack of adequate physical activity.
If the people of the Caribbean with the assistance and support of their governments and non-governmental organizations, take responsibility for, and make positive lifestyle changes toward healthier living, the prognosis for the region will change.
Our Healthy & Happy Caribbean has been established to help effect this change - to send a rallying call to all individuals and stakeholders to foster knowledgeable and widespread adherence to the tenets of total wellbeing among our population, toward a Caribbean people who share a common past and a healthy, happy future together.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
British Virgin Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands