According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), of all the major health threats that have emerged over the years, “none has challenged the very foundations of public health so profoundly as the rise of chronic Non-Communicable Diseases”. Caused by poor lifestyle choices, such as tobacco use, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity, NCDs have resulted in large numbers of young people dying. A significant number have also fallen ill and, therefore, cannot contribute to their families or the development of their communities in any way.Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, once linked only to affluent societies, have affected, and continue to affect, every country in the world – with the poor suffering the most owing to the lack of proper medical care and access to drugs, etc.At the turn of the century, chronic NCDs were not widely recognised as a barrier to development and were not included in the Millennium Development Goals. In terms of gaining attention and financial support, these diseases were overshadowed by the devastating epidemics of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, and the large number of maternal and childhood deaths.As stated by the WHO, much of its work in the earliest years of the decade involved collecting the data and making the arguments that would elevate NCDs on the global health and development agendas. On their part, countries – especially those with emerging economies – used the WHO STEPwise approach to gather standardised data on the true burden of these diseases. Those efforts culminated in 2011 when the United Nations General Assembly held a high-level meeting on NCDs and adopted a far-reaching Political Declaration. The Political Declaration acknowledged that the threat of NCDs constitutes one of the major challenges for development in the 21st Century, undermining social and economic progress throughout the world.In 2013, the World Health Assembly adopted a comprehensive global monitoring framework for NCDs, with nine voluntary targets and 25 indicators. The Health Assembly also approved the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2013–2020, which provided a roadmap and menu of options for taking coordinated and coherent action to attain the targets.In Guyana, NCDs are taking a huge chunk of the budgetary allocation to the Public Health Ministry. According to official figures, currently, about 70 per cent of the Ministry’s budget is being spent on tackling NCDs.From all indications, the Chronic Disease Unit (CDU), which has been established to tackle NCDs, has been doing a commendable job so far; but, certainly, there is need for efforts to be stepped up in certain areas. For example, there can never be enough education and public affairs programmes geared at reminding persons of the need to make positive lifestyle choices such as eating healthy, exercising daily, avoiding abuse of alcohol, and staying away from tobacco use. There is still a great deal of ignorance in the public about NCDs and how persons can avoid being affected; hence, messages should be carefully designed to address same using the relevant channels.Additionally, we have always stressed the need for more collaborative efforts among all stakeholders, including support from Private sector bodies, to tackle NCDs, since all of them are affected as a result of loss of labour force, etc. It could be recalled that the Public Health Ministry, late last year, had met with members of the Guyana Business Coalition on Health Awareness, and a Memorandum of Understanding was developed. The idea behind the initiative was to get the Private Sector more involved in the efforts, especially as they relate to funding critical programmes aimed at tackling NCDs. It was hoped that such funding will cover support groups, training, screening, and purchasing of gym materials to allow for more physical activities in workplaces, etc. The entities had also agreed to enforce no-smoking policies in their work environment. This was a good start and should be replicated among other agencies covering a range of areas aimed at encouraging healthy lifestyles in every community.Discussions surrounding NCDs should constantly be kept on the national development agenda where serious efforts are made at all levels to reduce the large numbers of persons suffering or facing death. We cannot afford to treat chronic NCDs lightly.
While Shen, an aspiring actor, does not deliberately hit the road in search of lunacy, he remains acutely aware that it surrounds him and everyone else. Keeping his camera phone nearby for when the moment strikes, he only shoots when it’s safe. And like any good crusader, he loves to see justice served. In a recent coup for sane drivers, a ravenous motorist sped through a red light at a busy intersection while stuffing his face, setting off a red-light police camera and traveling only a few yards before getting stuck again in traffic. “So not only is this guy getting a hefty fine and points on his license for a moving violation, he made no headway whatsoever,” wrote Shen on the blog. It took only seven minutes on the road with Shen on Monday before a lumberjack look-alike in an oversized pickup truck nearly slammed into our car after swerving to avoid a bus without looking. “Say cheese,” said Shen as he leaned over and snapped a photo of the violating vehicle while we waited in traffic on Van Nuys Boulevard. Two minutes later, he pointed out a fleet of cars turning left without blinkers on. Three minutes passed before a tailgater nearly kissed our bumper before losing patience and darting off to make an unsafe lane change. Sixty seconds later, a van brazenly turned left on a red light in front of a police station. A short time later, while we were turning right on Victory Boulevard, the driver of a Volkswagen Bug squeezed between us and the curb and made a foolhardy attempt to beat us into the turn. With drivers like these, it’s no wonder the number of traffic fatalities in the San Fernando Valley in a given year roughly matches the number of homicides. In 2006, there were 87 homicides in the Valley and 87 people killed in car crashes. A year earlier, the Valley saw 79 homicides and 77 deaths during collisions, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Somewhat horrified by their roadside experiences, a devoted following of the blog contribute nearly half the photos displayed along with their own white-knuckle stories. Misha Co of Los Angeles submitted a picture of a van carrying children that tried to race ahead of a school bus stopped on a busy street in Koreatown. Without looking first or signaling, the van driver switched lanes and nearly hit Co. “The issue that astounds me most is the same sort of behavior that some Angelenos exhibit whether in or out of their vehicles – arrogance and lack of consideration,” said Co. Erik Anderson of Santa Monica shared a story on the blog about traveling on a jam-packed Interstate 5 Freeway near San Onofre when a road-raging woman nearly rear-ended him and flashed her lights to get him to move over. She veered three lanes over, ended up in a slow lane and then tried to pass him in a closed car-pool lane bordered with reflectors that she plowed through. “But this story has a happy ending,” said Anderson. “A CHP officer was waiting in that lane just a few hundred feet up.” [email protected] (818) 713-3683160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “People don’t realize the violations they make,” said the 29-year-old Los Angeles man. “It’s astounding to me. It really is.” His goal? To promote safe driving and have mandatory road tests randomly issued to all motorists every six years, weeding out the ones who should never, ever climb behind the wheel. Because tailgaters, speeders and totally spaced-out motorists are so run-of-the-mill, the blog mostly focuses on more egregious roadway sinners: red-light runners, intersection blockers and red-faced road ragers. It blurs out license plates and blacks out drivers’ eyes to avoid lawsuits, but captures in detail their tremendous sense of entitlement on the roads. Their offenses are ranked on an idiocy meter. “They get angry if someone passes in front of them. They get angry and want to get through yellow lights,” said Shen. “I think people don’t signal because they’re afraid you won’t let them in.” Hey, rude and reckless motorists of Los Angeles, say cheese! Your madcap ways could land you on a stinging blog that skewers lousy drivers with photos and quips of their mind-blowing offenses. Everyone knows L.A. can’t drive, and now lacantdrive.com proves it. Started last fall by New York transplant Michael Shen, the Web site provides a humorous outlet for law-abiding motorists stuck on the roads with, well, total morons.