World Bank: Chronic Diseases Threaten Caribbean Economic Growth

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Above: San Fernando General Hospital in Trinidad (Photo: Trinidad Ministry of Health)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity and diabetes are the leading cause of death in the Caribbean, and their rapidly- increasing share of health expenditures in the region could threaten economic growth.

So-called “non-communicable diseases” can be traced to individual risk factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and alcohol abuse, according to two reports that cover Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean.

More than 60 percent of Jamaicans aged 35 to 54 are either obese or overweight, and Dominica has the highest obesity prevalence in the Eastern Caribbean.

In St Lucia and Jamaica, patients spend on average one third of household income on healthcare services and pharmaceutical services, for example.

In 2011, the World Bank mobilized $95 million for Caribbean countries’ health, nutrition and population.