Darville: More focus needed on preventative care

There has to be more focus on preventative medical care in The Bahamas, Minister of Health Dr. Michael Darville said yesterday.

Following the release of the 2019 STEPS Survey and its shocking findings about the state of many Bahamians’ health, Darville said the government is committed to effecting meaningful change.

“Yesterday [Wednesday] in the House of Assembly I spoke to the shocking findings in this most recent National Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Risk Factor STEPS Survey …,” he said during the launch of the Ministry of Health’s Wellness Unit.

“We intend to turn the corner and my team of healthcare professionals will work along with the Pan American Health Organization, the Healthy Bahamas Coalition, private sector groups, specialist in the industry and Bahamians everywhere to ensure meaningful changes happen. 

“We all are familiar with the old proverb: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As your health minister, I say to all at the sound of my voice, by reducing your risk factors for NCDs, you will not only live longer productive lives but help in reducing the country’s overall health cost and the decline in the number of patients admitted to our hospitals suffering from complications of diseases brought on by lifestyle choices.”

According to the survey, nearly 70 percent of respondents were either overweight or obese, nearly 30 percent were hypertensive and about half reported excessive alcohol use.

The survey was taken between January and April 2019 and involved 2,365 participants between the ages of 18 and 69.

“A singular message from the STEPS 2019 data is that The Bahamas is headed in the wrong direction in its NCD trajectory,” the report read.

“Additionally, in the study year, the adjusted rate of potentially avoidable premature mortality in The Bahamas was 324.5 deaths per 100,000 population, a decrease of 26.9 percent from a rate of 443.9 in 2000.

“This meant that in 2019, the avoidable mortality in the country was 43.1 percent higher than the average rate reported for the region of the Americas as a whole.”

Darville said the Wellness Unit will lead the charge in each community to ensure that young and old  benefit from programs that aim to promote positive lifestyle changes with specific focus on nutrition, physical activity and mental well-being.

He also noted that the Ministry of Health is conducting major clinic infrastructural upgrades across the country.

“But I cannot overemphasize the importance wellness and medical screening play in the early detection of diseases and swift treatment strategy at the community level that will save lives,” he said.

He continued, “My ministry remains committed to steady progress in transforming the delivery of healthcare services across the country.

“However, if the truth be told, as much as I have a passion for curative medical therapies, emergency medicine strategies and live saving surgical interventions, going forward, more focus will be placed on screening, preventative care and further investments in a solid well-oiled primary healthcare system.

“A few months ago, I laid in Parliament the new National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill that will repeal and replace the current  2016 NHI Act.

“With the passing and enactment of this new piece of legislation, my Ministry will jump start the expansion of primary healthcare services and make way for public healthcare clinics to become providers in the NHI network. This is big and will pave the way for catastrophic health care.”

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the news editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to news editor in January 2023.

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