Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 24th 2017 Contents news A13
Friday, March 24, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Groups join forces to
battle lifestyle diseases
About 60 per cent of all deaths in T&T
are related to Non-Communicable Dis-
This according to chairman of the TTNCD
Alliance Dona Da Costa Martinez who says the
time has come for civil society groups to work
together to complement the Government's
objectives to reduce this threatening epidemic.
Speaking at the media launch of the TTNCD Alliance at
the Cascadia Hotel, St Ann's, on Wednesday, Da Costa Mar-
tinez said their principal purpose was to advocate for high
priority to be given to the prevention and control of NCD's
in T&T---principally diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer
and chronic lung disease.
She said the nine members had committed to work togeth-
er to help reduce the $8.7 b price-tag that government
face yearly, to treat patients suffering from diabetes,
hypertension and cancer.
Da Costa Martinez said the idea of an alli-
ance was conceptualised in 2015, by former
PAHO/WHO senior adviser Dr Karen Seale.
Sealey urged NGO representatives to come
together under one umbrella to strengthen re-
lations and increase the impact of their work.
The founding members include the T&T
Cancer Society; the Chest and Heart Asso-
ciation of T&T; the Diabetes Association of
T&T; T&T Heart Foundation; Heartbeat In-
ternational of T&T; T&T Coalition for Tobac-
co Control; Caribbean Sport and Development
Agency; T&T Association of Nutritionists and
Dietitians; and Family Planning of T&T.
Da Costa Martinez extended an invitation to
other NGO's, professionals, academic institu-
tions, public health experts and community
activists "who care about the negative impact
of NCD's on our country's development to join
Da Costa Martinez said the Alliance was
seeking to accelerate the achievement of Gov-
ernment's commitments at the global, regional
and national levels.
Advisor of Health Systems and Services at
PAHO, Dr Edwin Bolastig, said NCD's were responsible for
almost four out of every five deaths annually in the Americas,
which amounted to a total of 4.8 million deaths---35 per
cent of which he claimed, were premature and occurring
among persons 30 to 70 years old.
He pledged to support the Alliance's work, noting
that these premature deaths translated into huge
productivity losses for a country.
Cardiovascular diseases was listed as the
leading cause of death at 38 per cent, while
cancer stood at 25 per cent, respiratory dis-
eases at nine per cent, and diabetes at six
Bolastig said these four leading NCD's
shared risk factors such as tobacco use, harm-
ful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical
inactivity leading to obesity and increase blood
glucose and raised cholesterol.
RADHICA DE SILVA
Struggling mother of three Sheby-
ana Ali, who is facing eviction at the
end of this month, says she may have to
give up her children to the State because
she can no longer care for them.
She said this after Housing Minis-
ter Randall Mitchell indicated that he
could not guarantee her an Housing
Development Corporation (HDC)
house because he still has to review
her file to see whether she qualifies
for emergency housing.
The minister said Ali's problem
is bigger than the HDC, so when he
gets her file at the end of this week,
he will liaise with the Social Services
"She really needs the security of the
national safety net. We can do our part but
her problems go way beyond that of the HDC,"
Ali said Mitchell's statements made her even more
"I was referred by the National Family Services,
the medical social worker and my district social
worker. I have a letter from the welfare officer
recommending me. I went to my MP for
San Fernando West, Faris Al-Rawi and
the social worker there looked at my file.
"I spoke with Ms Valdez and Mr
Connelly and my file had reached the
social department. I was interviewed
and they said they will contact me,"
Ali appealing for help to find an
apartment in the Siparia area she
can rent for between $1,500 to
$1,800 a month.
"I cannot afford anything else
but if I can qualify for an HDC low
income home, I will be better able
to care for my children," she said.
The 34-year-old mother, who
took her three children and left an
abusive relationship two years ago,
said life has been an uphill battle
"I don't know what else to do.
I don't want to lose my children.
They are doing well in school and
I am praying that I can find a place
to live before the month ends," she
said. The family currently lives in
a plywood structure in Siparia but
the landlord wants to raise the rent
and Ali said she cannot afford the
According to the Alliance, the main NCD's in T&T
included heart disease (25 per cent), diabetes (14 per
cent), cancer (13 per cent) and stroke (ten per cent).
Cardiovascular disease was listed as the leading
cause of premature death in both men and women
at 30 per cent and 28 per cent respectively. The
organisation said T&T also had one of the highest
cancer mortality rates in the Caribbean as between
2001 and 2008, the annual number of deaths from
cancer increased from 1,202 to 1,417.
It was found that in 2008, mortality due to cancer
was higher for men than women.
In men, prostate cancer was the most prevalent at
34 per cent, followed by lung cancer at 13 per cent. In
women, breast cancer was the leading cause of death
at 23 per cent, followed by cervical and colorectal
cancers at 11 per cent. With T&T ranking among the
countries with the most prevalent and fastest-grow-
ing cases of diabetes, the TTNCD Alliance said there
were approximately 39,400 undiagnosed cases.
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