The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., through its tobacco prevention and control program, disclosed that there is an alarming mortality rate in the Commonwealth due to non-communicable diseases.
According to Becky Robles, Public Health Tobacco Prevention and Control program coordinator, a total of 90 individuals died due to NCDs in 2010. This makes NCDs among the Top 5 leading causes of deaths in the Commonwealth.
Data presented to participants of the Public School System's Parents Summit last Thursday showed that cancer remains the top “killer” on the islands with 23 deaths two years ago. This is followed by heart disease, which is blamed for 21 deaths in 2010. Stroke killed 19 other persons that same year. Pneumonia is also a leading driver of the mortality rate, with 16 dying from this disease two years ago. Sepsis also ranks high, with 11 deaths in 2010.
Based on public health records, 7 out of 10 persons with non-communicable diseases get their diseases mainly through their lifestyle and the lack of physical activities.
In pointing out the importance of parental involvement, Robles said their latest data show that tobacco consumption among the youth can be reduced, if not eradicated.
A 2011 behavioral risk survey conducted among secondary students showed that 23.9 percent of high school students in public schools smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days that the survey was conducted. Students who consumed smokeless cigarettes were at 35.2 percent.
Robles disclosed that 21.1 percent of adults in the CNMI smoke cigarettes while 21.2 percent of adults chew betel nut with tobacco.
Robles emphasized the urgent need in the Commonwealth to adopt changes in people's lifestyles to address the spread of non-communicable diseases. The island culture and some traditional family practices, she said, are major factors in the increasing number of patients and a major reason for the high mortality rates on the islands.
NCDs, she added, are also prime factors in the increasing number of dialysis patients. The CNMI has to date over 150 dialysis patients being treated at the hospital and in a private dialysis facility.
The Division of Public Health earlier revealed that NCDs continue to ravage the Western Pacific region, with record high rates of diabetes, cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, stroke, gout, arthritis, and depression. This prompted the Pacific Island Health Officers Association to declare a regional state of health emergency in 2010.