DINDIAL RAMRATTAN, UNIVERSITY OF WEST INDIES, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Abstract: The Caribbean region has experienced an epidemiological transition from communicable diseases to chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) over the past few decades. The case of Trinidad and Tobago has been no different. The main objective of this paper is to highlight some of the effects of this transition as well as to increase awareness of the need to foster a preventative approach to healthcare that fully takes this changing disease profile into account. The epidemiological transition has led to a change in the scope and functions of the health system. Given that the major health-based threats to the human capital development of Trinidad and Tobago are no longer diseases that are transferred from person to person but are, in fact, largely brought on by lifestyle choices, healthcare systems should now focus on prevention in the form of marketing, awareness drives and advertising to name a few. A significant economic burden will be imposed upon the society if a prevention-based approach to CNCDs is not adopted. The preventative approach will allow the country to mitigate some of the future health impacts that the population may face and Trinidad and Tobago stands to benefit greatly, via productivity and welfare gains, if CNCD-related issues are tackled prior to their onset rather than later on when these diseases have already taken root.
Keywords: preventative; healthcare; chronic non-communicable; Trinidad and Tobago; transition; human capital.