Bahamas News

BAHAMAS: This time in medicine is exciting and challenging for doctors

#Nassau, June 25, 2018 – Bahamas – Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands said this time in medicine is both a particularly exciting and a particularly challenging one for doctors.

“How you deal with these challenges will determine your staying power in the profession,” Dr. Sands said at The University of the West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research & the Ministry of Health’s ‘Induction and Awards Ceremony for the Graduating Class of 2018’ held at Baha Mar, Sunday, June 24, 2018.

In attendance were Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis; Vice Chancellor, University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles; and Director, UWI School of Clinical Medicine and Research, Dr. Robin Roberts.

Dr. Sands said, “Newly-minted doctors, you are entering a profession now dominated with chronic non-communicable diseases, and the sad reality is that you may oftentimes have to convince the very patients you hope to get well that they even have a problem.”

He said, “We all have heard obese or overweight people say that they are just big boned or solid; or diabetics that swear that they have a touch of sugar; or the out of control hypertensive say they just ‘gat a lil bit a pressure’.  Such ‘bending of the truth or these pleasantries’ ease the need to wrap our heads on the brutal reality of diseases that kill and incapacitate.”

The Health Minister said the social determinants of health are largely sadly outside of the control of the traditional doctor, no matter how well-intentioned.

“We continue to have the worst profile of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) in the Americas, and the highest rate of HIV/AIDS outside of Sub-Saharan Africa.  Hundreds upon hundreds of our people are afflicted with kidney failure requiring dialysis at a cost of $50,000 – $80,000 per patient per year.”

He said the efficient and effective approach to the country’s medical challenges demands routine and appropriate screenings, medication when needed, restrictive dietary changes and an abandonment of the lifestyle that shuns physical exercise.

Dr. Sands added that everything from policy to service delivery should assist the Bahamian people in making wise and healthy decisions and adopting a healthy lifestyle.  He explained that 45 years ago, a revolutionary social idea gave way to the creation of a national breadbasket.

Dr. Sands said it was the kind of initiative that was revolutionary at that time.

“In 2017, on reviewing the 45-year-old Bread Basket list, we realized that the items included were not ideal.  Many were calorie-dense and nutrient poor with a number of items which, when combined with an inactive lifestyle, increase the risk for becoming overweight, obese and developing one or more NCD’s.”

He said the breadbasket was a progressive social initiative and the drafters could not have known that an initiative that saved many from malnutrition by allowing a belly-full would become, in part a reason for the epidemic of obesity, hypertension and diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure.

“Instead of being underfed and malnourished, we are overfed and malnourished.”

The Health Minister said the Government has committed to an extensive national consultative and educational campaign, which has been ongoing but not yet complete.  He said the importance of this initial and ongoing engagement with the public cannot be understated.

“When we complete the consultation, we expect that the revised, agreed list will be gazetted by the Minister of Labour on the advice of my Ministry. There will be no need for any additional legislation.”

Dr. Sands said because there have been overwhelming views expressed on two items to date, sugar will definitely not be on the price control protection list.  He added that Corned Beef was found wanting, was weighed in the balance, and was granted clemency. It is on probation.

Dr. Sands said moving forward, he anticipates that the Government shall work to achieve consensus to remove margarine, condensed milk, mayonnaise, canned soups and broths and canned meats (SPAM, Vienna sausages, etc.)

The Government expects to add:

  • Beans and Peas (a healthier source of protein and minerals.)
  • Raw Almonds and cashews
  • Fresh oranges
  • Fresh apples
  • Root crops (sweet potato, pumpkin, cassava, Eddie, Irish potatoes)
  • Oatmeal
  • Tuna, sardine and mackerel in Water
  • Healthier milks
  • Healthier flour (whole wheat, spelt, Quinoa, Coconut, gluten-free, rice, unbleached white)
  • Healthier bread (Whole grain, whole wheat)
  • Healthier Butters and Oils
  • Healthier rice

Dr. Sands said it is expected that the combination of VAT elimination and price control (18 per cent and 21 per cent) will not only make healthy foods less expensive; they will actually be affordable.


By: Llonella Gilbert (BIS)

Photo Caption:  Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands brings remarks at The University of the West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research & Ministry of Health’s ‘Induction and Awards Ceremony for the Graduating Class of 2018’ held at Baha Mar, Sunday, June 24, 2018.

(BIS Photos/Kristaan Ingraham)



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