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US$51m loan to combat NCDs

Sunday, October 1, 2017
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, centre, chats with from left, President of the Caribbean Obesity Society Professor Dilip Dan, Professor Terence Seemungal, Dr Hassina Mohammed, Dr Alpana Shukla, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association and Professor Paul Teelucksingh at the T&TMA’s 23rd annual medical and research conference at Hilton Trinidad yesterday.

The Government has taken a US$51 million loan to help combat non-communicable diseases, says Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

He said at least $8 billion have already been spent treating patients suffering from life-style diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Speaking at the close of a two-day seminar at the 23 annual medical and research conference yesterday, in his address titled “Healthy Me, Healthy You Healthy T&T” the minister said a large portion of the national budget has been spent fighting NCD’s.

He said to combat the diseases “all the stars must align”.

Those stars included the political will, realistic plan and funding. The funding, he said, came from an Inter-American Development Bank loan. The political will comes from the Cabinet-sanctioned ban of sugary drinks in schools, he said.

The realistic plan will include educational outreaches, treating the disease at the primary level so that patients will not have to seek medical attention and or operations, which he said were the secondary and tertiary levels.

Deyalsingh told his audience at the Hilton Hotel that in the past two years there have been 1,000 amputations associated with diabetes and these were only above and below the knee amputations.

He said this figure is “alarming” and hoped to reduce that through education and sanctions. One such sanction was the no sugary drinks in schools which will be followed by the banning of soft drinks from vending machines at all health institutions.

This latest endeavour is still in the drafting phase and will be rolled out within the coming weeks.

The health minister said people in the country were digging themselves an early grave with their fingers, forks and spoons and doing so while wobbling on one leg.

He said he received political backlash from the food and beverage suppliers for his stance in schools regarding sugary drinks adding: “I am not concerned with their financial interests”.

Asked about his desire for his ministry in today’s budgetary following his speech, the Health Minister said he will be grateful for whatever he receives and will make the most of it.

He said last year his ministry was able to save $75 million by switching drug suppliers.

He said that the ministry is also expecting to save more money when they switch the current process where Regional Health Authorities purchase orthopaedic supplies which is expected to become effective within a year.


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