Jamaica could lose an estimated $47 billion in workforce productivity over the next 15 years, if more is not done to reduce the impact of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) on the population.
Dr. Christopher Tufton, who was speaking during the plenary session of the Bi-Annual Jamaican Diaspora Conference about Health and Wellness, highlighted that NCDs were “a clear and present danger,” because they represented two-thirds of all deaths which occur in Jamaica.
“The economic consequence of our current health status is that we are going to be challenged to expand and prosper, because of productivity issues, if we do not address the impact of NCDs,” Dr. Tufton stated.
“We have conducted studies, which indicate that financial loss in workforce productivity over the next 15 years, could cost as high as $47 billion dollars. Medical costs from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes alone, over the next 15 years, could be as high as $29.8 billion,” the Health and Wellness Minister affirmed.
Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) are not transmitted from person to person via direct or indirect contact. They are however heavily influenced by lifestyle choices. The most common NCDs include cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma), and diabetes. NCDs share several common, modifiable risk factors – tobacco use, harmful alcohol abuse, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet.
He noted that cardiovascular diseases claim about 6,000 lives per year in Jamaica, while cancer claims some 4,000.
“In total, we have about 17,000-18,000 deaths in the country, annually; and NCDs remain a major threat, accounting for 67 per cent of that number; as opposed to mosquito borne illnesses and viruses. It is not unique to us, and there are many reasons for that. But it does suggest one critical thing, we must invest in getting Jamaicans to change their lifestyle,” he advised.
He added that this had repercussions on the economic survival of families.
“A World Bank Study reports that in the average Jamaican hous