Special Reports

COVID-19’s Deadly NCD Connection

An estimated seven out of every 10 deaths in Barbados are linked to a non-communicable disease (NCD). 

The connection between NCDs and complications associated with COVID-19 is also well established as this opportunistic virus thrives on NCDs, weakening an already compromised system. Although the high incidence of non-communicable diseases in Barbados did not start with COVID-19, the pandemic has revealed holes in the system to address them. The situation also puts to the test traditions and behaviours surrounding NCD triggers

For the island, this presents a multi-pronged challenge to its public health assets. Barbados has long been keeping a close eye on what has been recognised as a high incidence of NCDs including hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels), cancers and pulmonary diseases.  

To that has recently been added a fifth category: mental health disease. Once included, the numbers rise and, along with them, the cost of healthcare.

Barbados’ Rendezvous with Climate Change

If most fisherfolk, tourism operators, scientists, politicians, and regular citizens collectively agree on anything here it is that the unfolding impacts of climate change have the potential to dramatically change the face of the 432 square kilometre island republic forever. 

This is particularly the case when it comes to Barbados’ famed marine resources that constitute the islands key tourism assets, provide recreation, and contribute to domestic food supplies. Robert Hinds, Operations Manager at Atlantis Submarines is convinced the threats are not to be taken lightly. “It is not a joke, if we look, we may not be able to see the effects right now. Yes, climate change has a big impact. It’s just a matter of time before we see those effects of sea level rise, and the effects on the coastline,” Hinds said.

Searching for the Sun on the Nature Island

Almost a decade after Dominica’s best and brightest recommended a diversified renewable energy plan, the island’s 75,000 residents are paying a high price for continued reliance on diesel-fueled generators to supply the electric grid. The current government has poured funds into a geothermal plant that would be capable of exporting electricity at a profit.  But the project has stalled over costs and concerns about safety and it’s impact on the environment. As a result, Dominica ranks as one of the countries whose people pay some of the highest energy rates in the World. Prominent environmentalist Atherton Martin reflected on the public record for making the switch to non-fossil fuels saying “We are where we are: not in a good place.”

Sources: World Factbook, U.S. Nat’l Renewable Energy Lab

Martin, Dominica’s former Minister of Agriculture, placed the blame squarely on the government for ignoring the detailed Low Carbon Climate Resilient Development Strategy of 2012.  That report was an in-depth study into the viability of renewable energy plants.  It even identified where they could be located.