Since 1975, an annual report on health statistics has been published in Mauritius. And for Rodrigues, this practice has been done since 1988, we read in the last Health Statistics of 2019. A decisive inventory to define the priority axes according to the most recurring causes of mortality among Mauritians. Do these remain unchanged? Is there an increase in certain diseases that have become vectors of death in 2021?
Unfortunately, the latest updates have not been available since 2019, so for Covid-19, the count is done daily. Why ? “Regular surveys are done every five years. In 2020, we did not do it because of the Covid-19. This was to be achieved in 2021 but you can see that the island is once again hit by the pandemic. It was however planned ”, explains Dr Laurent Musango, representative of the World Health Organization in Mauritius.
For his part, Dr Vasantrao Gujadhur, former director of health services at the supervisory ministry, specifies that each department must send its data and make updates.
“Perhaps this data has not yet been prepared in the face of the focus on Covid-19. Teams working on diseases causing death should continue to do so. These are national issues that must be managed on a daily basis for the good health of the population ”, commented, for his part, Ramesh Purrunsingh, spokesperson for the Health Improvement Committee.
Indeed, the essential Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Survey could not materialize last year, he confirms. The previous edition, dated 2015, already sounded the alarm on cardiovascular disease and diabetes, responsible for the death of the majority of Mauritians. Six years later, are these non-communicable diseases increasing or declining? In the absence of new data, studies and regular screening tests, doctors are struggling to sketch a precise picture of their magnitude. However, observations in the medical field are alarmist.
“The root of the evil is cardiovascular in origin. This constitutes the highest percentage of deaths in Mauritius. Added to this are diabetes, obesity, junk food, sedentary lifestyle and a poor lifestyle in general. As a child, we were poorly informed on how to eat and behave well ”, observes Dr Mike Sooknundun, director of the North Clinic. With an increase in cases, cancer is just as recurrent, even if it does not dethrone heart disease, still in pole position for local mortalities, he believes.
Regarding diabetes, which peaked at 20.5% of Mauritians with this disease in 2015, it could officially exceed the bar of 25% in 2021, or even more. Because many Mauritians are unaware that they suffer from it as they do not get tested. “In addition to this category, we must not neglect pre-diabetics who are on the rise. In medical practice, one does not see. Of course, we also need supporting national figures ”, he indicates. The rate of Mauritians pre-diabetic was 19.4% in 2015, according to the NCD survey.
In addition, such comorbidities are conducive to greater fragility in the event of Covid-19, adds the doctor. As the population is confined, we must redouble our efforts to practice activities and the prohibition of foods that are too rich, fatty and sweet.
For Ramesh Purrunsingh, although new technologies and infrastructures are more available in health, efforts must be made to fight against diseases leading to the death of the population. “We cannot blame everything on Covid-19. No one has foreseen this virus, but the fight against the diseases that kill must be continued ”, he says. He adds that Mauritius has doctors and qualified personnel who can contribute to adequate treatment and prevention. Obviously, he retorts, this must be complemented by the responsibility of citizens, who must be more aware of the components and effects of their consumption.
Ditto for sports practice not instilled in the population. In this vein, he suggests the introduction of a subject specializing in health in the school curriculum from primary school.