One of the many discussion points COVID 19 pandemic has generated is the ‘Covid 19 dashboard’. The ‘dashboard’ highlights a running number of daily, cumulative infections, active cases, number of people vaccinated, DEATHS and other information public health officials deem to be pertinent. Last evening the recent ‘dashboard’ showed the number of deaths attributed to COVID 19 had surpassed 42 for 2020 – see BU’s Murder Tracker.
An unwelcome characteristic demonstrated by Barbadians in recent years is a numbness shown to death. In 2019 the number of murders was an unprecedented 49. It was not that long ago Barbadians expressed horror at a single unnatural death on the island. The blogmaster anticipates the counter perspective will be that per thousand- Barbados despite the high number of reported murders in the last 2 years- is removed from several other countries in the region. Why then is the blogmaster consumed by an overwhelming sense of despair at the current situation? A glimmer of hope- we have passed the first quarter of 2021 with a single murder reported. Will the trend continue? The blogmaster is not optimistic.
The government is understandably consumed by the economic and COVID 19 challenges of the day. However, we must not forget the social issues we have to also manage that determine the quality of society we aspire to maintain. Although Barbados’ human development index continues to be relatively well reported, it has fallen from high of the 1990s.
An overdue discussion in the country is the causal factors driving the apathetic attitude to the rising number of murders and death in general.
There is also the sub story revealed by rising COVID 19 deaths that confirms the vulnerability of individuals afflicted with comorbidities in Barbados. It is no secret Barbados has earned the label NCD Capital of the world. It is no secret the COVID 19 virus has been unkind to this group. PAHO reports that people with underlying health problems, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer have a higher risk of severe COVID 19 disease and are more likely to die.
Although fighting the pandemic has been elevated to number one priority health issue by the global community, the enduring issue for Barbados of the high incidence of NCDs must not see this issue being subsumed and ‘deprioritized’ by the pandemic. Should the health authorities be using the opportunity to coopt simultaneous approaches to fight both health issues?
The blogmaster wants to see a greater proactive and holistic approach to managing the people’s business by government and NGO stakeholders. There is a reason funding for education is consistently in the top two allocations of the national budget. The high incidence of NCDs in Barbados and the apathy to murder and death suggest we must see a greater rate of return on education (ROE). This dysfunctional behaviour if allowed to be unrestrained does not bode well for a future Barbados.