Health professionals discuss growing health crisis of non-communicable diseases |27 August 2022
A remarkable increase in heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease have caused more deaths in the past year raising the concern of health professionals who met yesterday to explore the situation before making recommendations to government.
According to a preliminary report on non-communicable diseases (NCD) for 2021 from the Ministry of Health, there have been more deaths in 2021 among which a significant proportion of people who died in that year, died of vascular diseases.
The preliminary information from the annual sector report was shared by Dr Sanjeev Pugazhendhi during a half-day discussion session for health professionals held under the theme: ‘Non-Communicable Disease: A Growing Health Crisis and its Impact on the Allied Health Care in Seychelles’ that was held yesterday at the Savoy Resort and Spa, Beau Vallon.
The discussion session was organised by the Health Professionals Council (HPC).
Dr Pugazhendhi said that following the arrival of Covid-19, there was an overall increase in the number of deaths in 2020 and reaching 925 deaths in 2021 only, as compared to the 600 plus average deaths per year, leading up to 2019 before the arrival of the pandemic.
He said of the 30% of people who died from vascular disease in 2021, 20% had Covid-19.
He stated that apart from vascular disease which still remains the number one cause of death in the country, Covid-19 has from 2020 -2021 taken the position from cancer as the second leading cause of death here for the time being.
He noted that most of the deaths were during the surge of the pandemic.
The doctor stated that the high level of deaths in 2021 could have been linked with the scaling down of some of the health services during the pandemic and people’s perception through a level of fear to access health services as they might contract the virus.
He noted that it was only in the last quarter of 2021 that people slowly started to use the health services more.
Dr Pugazhendhi added that the other pattern that changed in 2021, before the arrival of Covid-19, is that the number of injuries and death from road accident, falls and drowning, among other external causes, which decreased from 55 annually before Covid-19 to around 35 in 2021.
He said the reduction in the number of deaths from external cause in 2020-2021 was as a result of the health restrictions that were in place.
For her part the HPC vice-chairperson, Lisa Chetty, said that as healthcare professionals, they have a duty of care to the public and that continuing professional development is essentially the only way to ensure that they are valued, protected and have the required fallback so they are up to date to protect the public.
She called on members of the HPC to continue to elevate their knowledge and standards of care to offer the best version of themselves to the public they treat.
“Without constantly updating ourselves and following minimum standards of excellence, we would be unable to refute or reiterate the basis of our avenues of thinking, philosophy and good practice,” she said.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), NCDs, also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors. It is responsible for almost 70% of all deaths worldwide.
With our country not spared from NCDs, its impact and implication on the Allied Health Care here is annually increasing resulting in a direct increase in expenditure and additional pressure on the healthcare system and its personnel especially with the arrival of the pandemic where several specialised health care services and allied health care services were impacted with reduced service delivery.
Apart from Dr Pugazhendhi’s presentation on the NCD 2021 report, there were other presentations from different Allied Health Care professionals in relation to solving the impact and implications of NCDs on services on offer. A similar education and discussion meeting was held on Praslin, in June.
The HPC was established in 2012 and is mandated to regulate all health professionals in the country and to monitor their compliance to the established laws and regulations governed by the Health Professional Act of 2006.
Text & photos by Patrick Joubert