Facing the Challenge of Chronic Disease

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Often our attention is so squarely focused on high profile diseases such as the pandemic flu or AIDS, that we easily forget how much the Caribbean population actually suffers from chronic diseases.
In fact, ailments such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease and stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes are the leading causes of premature death in our region. A staggering two out of three deaths of people younger than 70 years results from a chronic disease.
Simply put, the largest epidemic we are facing is the one of chronic non-communicable diseases. But unlike for the flu and other viruses, there are no vaccines for these. Instead, prevention lies in education and the only way to protect ourselves from their impact is to choose to live healthily.
While I certainly do commend our Public Health Department and all their private-sector partners for the stellar work they continue to do in this field, I also freely admit that we need help, particularly help from YOU!
You play a key role in delivering health messages and influencing public attitudes and behaviour. Today you will learn more about the prevalence of chronic disease in Cayman and together with public health officials you will explore your roles as national partners in disseminating health promotion information to the general public.
There is no doubt that your involvement is critical to the success of our health officials’ objectives, and I accordingly sincerely thank you all for being here.
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