Image: Healthpassport.uk. This type of health passport looks a lot like a travel passport.

Soufriere, St. Lucia–The Ministry of Health has launched the chronic health passport as part of activities observing Caribbean Wellness Day.

Dr. Shana Cyr-Philbert said the chronic health passport is also useful to family members and caregivers.

In the Caribbean, chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the cause of the majority of premature adult deaths. They pose a serious threat to health and development.

The death rate from NCDS in the Caribbean is the highest in the Americas.

Heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, all prevalent in Saint Lucia, are caused by biological factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, high blood sugar and high blood cholesterol. Hypertension is one of the most important risk factors for heart disease and has been shown to affect 25.8 percent of the population in Saint Lucia.

With a noted decline in visits to Wellness Centres due to COVID-19, the Ministry of Health is reaching out to persons with NCDs who are now administering self-care, via the chronic health passport.

Caribbean Wellness Day was agreed upon by CARICOM Heads of Government in 2007. In 2011, Caribbean countries committed to reducing NCD deaths by 25 percent, by the year 2025.

The idea of health passports has been developed in a number of countries for various purposes. They may be hand-held documents, or just online documents, and they may be used for chronic illnesses or to show vaccination status. This graphic from the UK newspaper The Guardian is an example of one kind of health passport and how it might work.

Graphic: The Guardian.

With the rise of Covid-19 as a factor all over the world, there is renewed interest in the concept. Without knowing exactly what format the St. Lucia health passport will take, the thing that all forms of health passport have in common is that they make important health information readily available in one place, without compromising patient confidentiality.