A 2016 survey conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank revealed that the economic burden of diabetes, hypertension and cancer to Trinidad and Tobago is about TT$8.7 billion.
This represents 4.6 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
The IDB found that more than half of the total burden is due to productivity losses related to diabetes, hypertension and cancer mortality and morbidity.
Even more alarming statistics showed that 80 per cent of all deaths in Trinidad and Tobago are attributed to non-communicable disease (NCD), over 50 per cent of the population age 15 to 64 is overweight or obese, over the last ten years obesity in children increased by 400 per cent, and since 1980 the prevalence of diabetes in T&T has increased by 350 per cent.
The Ministry of Health is hoping to stop and reverse this NCD epidemic, by way of a US$48.4 million loan from the IDB to implement the Health Services Support Programme (HSSP), which will run for five years. The loan agreement was signed in August last year.
“At present, this epidemic poses a threat to our global competitiveness because if you have an unhealthy workforce obviously you’re not going to get the maximum productivity from them,” said Dr. Maryam Abdool-Richards, technical director of the IDB-funded Health Services Support Programme (HSSE).