Ministry of Health & Social Development
Release Date:
Thursday, 20 February 2020 - 3:11pm



Non-communicable Disease Programmes

In September 2007, CARICOM Heads of Government convened a summit on Non-communicable disease (NCDs) to address the social, economic and health burden of NCDs in member states. The key outcome of the Summit was the Port of Spain Declaration which provides a 14 point road map for CARICOM Countries to address several challenging issues collaboratively.  While the BVI Government did not participate in the summit, the Territory embraced the recommendations coming out of the CARICOM meeting.  An NCD focal point was appointed in the Ministry of Health and Social Development to coordinate a national response.  Dr. Vincent Scatliffe served as the first chairman of the 15-person multisectoral  NCDs Taskforce.  Among the early accomplishments were the completion of the first WHO STEPs Survey in 2009 to determine the prevalence of NCD risk factors in the adult population, and the development of a ten-year NCD Prevention and Control Strategy, “Towards a Healthier Virgin Islands”.  The NCD strategy was tabled  in the House of Assembly in September 2011.

The study examined five key risk factors for non-communicable diseases:  current daily smokers, overweight/obesity, raised blood pressure, comsumption of fruits and vegetables and physical activities.  The survey showed that  57 percent of the productive population, aged less than 45 years, had one to two (1-2) risk factors and 41 percent classified and being at increased risk for non-communicable disease. 

The survey concluded that a very high prevalence of the risk factors for chronic disease exists in the adult population 25 to 64 years of age.  These findings are a predictor of a high future burden of chronic disease in the Territory.

Implementation of the strategy calls for an “all of government” and “all of society” approach.  The Ministry of Health and Social Development and Social Development has been working to develop comprehensive integrated  programmes with  other sectors . The following are some of the highlights that have been initiated:

  • In 2015 the  Ministry of Health and Social Development and Social Development signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Education and Culture to strengthen school health coordination, programmes and policies.  That same year, with technical support from the Caribbean Public Health Agency,  the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Development launched “A Healthy Lifestyle (Diet and Physical Active) School Intervention” within the public primary schools. The emphasis of the school-based health promotion intervention is designed to instill in children the knowledge, skills and motivation for adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours in the areas of diet and physical activity. These are two of four modifiable behavioural risk factors that can reduce and delay the onset of NCDs.

To further strengthen the physical activity component of the school intervention, the BVI participated in an 18-month Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees pilot project.  The project aimed to build stronger sport systems and improve the overall health and well-being of nations across the life course in six Caribbean countries.   On the completion of the project, the Ministry of Health and Social Development in partnership with the BVI Olympic Committee, sought to continue the work with the schools by engaging the services of Sport for Life, Canada.  

In September, Sport for Life will work with the Ministry of Education to strengthen physical activity across the school day in early childhood centres and primary schools.

  • Improving the quality of care for persons living with chronic diseases is high on the agenda of the Ministry of Health and Social Development.  The Ministry of Health and Social Development and the BVI Health Services Authority developed a three-year Chronic Care Action Plan to improve the management and control of persons living with Type II Diabetes and Hypertension.  These two diseases were selected because statistics have shown that 90% of the patients seeking dialysis treatment is due to the complication of uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension.
  • The Ministry of Health and Social Development and Social Development is in the process of finalising a national Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan.  The  Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Plan of Action is a joint venture between the Ministry of Health and Social Development and the Department of Agriculture.   
  • The Ministry is also receiving technical support from Public Health England to amend the 2006 Tobacco Control and Prevention Act and the 2007 Tobacco Regulations to bring them in line with WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ( FCTC).
  • Since 2017 the Ministry has forged a stronger link with churches to strengthen and develop faith-based health ministries aimed at improving congregations’ and community health. The Faith-based Health Ministry Network will be the organ through which the Ministry of Health and Social Development will work with churches during phase one, and other faith-based organisations during phase two.

Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP)

It is against the background of the findings of the STEPS Survey that the Ministry of Health and Social Development and Social Development had signed a two-year contract with Lifestyle Medicine Institute to use its Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP) as a community-based initiative to prevent and reduce non-communicable diseases and their risk factors in the population.

CHIP was introduced in the Territory by its creator, by Dr. Hans Diehl, founder of Lifestyle Institute. Dr. Diehl is also a Clinical Professor of Preventive Medicine at Loma Linda University, School of Medicine. Over the last thirty (30) years, Dr. Diehl and his team have been fighting the rise of chronic diseases using CHIP  as a proven lifestyle medicine solution internationally.  Over 80,000 persons in the US alone have gone through this programme.  The programme has also received over 35 scientific reviews by reputable health journals.

The first cohort of CHIP facilitators was trained to run the programme in various communities throughout the Virgin Islands. More details concerning registration and participation in the CHIP programme will be announced within the coming weeks.