Photo: Chief medical officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Hazel Laws
Health info unit finds NCDs leading cause of death in federation
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Data from the Health Information Unit in St. Kitts and Nevis show that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is the leading cause of death in the federation, accounting for 83 percent of mortality among the population. The information was shared by the chief medical officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Hazel Laws, who was a guest on the “Working for You” programme Sept. 13.
“When we looked at the figures between the five-year period  and 2013, we found that…the major causes of death in this federation [are] cancer, strokes, complications of diabetes and heart attacks, and these all fall under the list of non-communicable diseases,” she said.
She added that hypertension and diabetes, in particular, are the leading causes of morbidity in the federation and that this, too, is based on data coming out of the Health Information Unit at the Ministry of Health.
“We looked at the data between 2010 and 2015 and we found that…we are having on average about 110 new cases of hypertension each year and within that same time period, we had an average of about 95 new cases of diabetes each year and so hypertension and diabetes are impacting our people,” she said.
Laws explained that some of the resulting complications meant lower limb amputations for diabetics because of changes in the blood vessels.
“We’ve had an average [of] 39 amputations per year between 2011 and 2015,” she said. “Chronic renal failure is another complication of diabetes and hypertension. At present, we have almost a hundred cases of chronic renal failure in our federation. So, this is just to share with you some of our local data substantiating what we are saying that, you know, non-communicable diseases are a major problem in our federation,” she said.
The four major NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. The four main risk factors are tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.