CARICOM Hosts First Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases


Heads of Government and top health officials from across the region are expected to be in full attendance at the first ever CARICOM Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which will take place on September 15 in Trinidad and Tobago.
According to Dr. Edward Green, CARICOM Assistant Secretary General, the main objective of the Summit is to forge dialogue on the critical issues related to NCDs and come up with recommendations to reduce risk factors and promote prevention.
“It is also an attempt to assist in the strengthening of alliances across the region so that there may be more cohesive and coordinated policies,” he said at a media clinic held via video conference at the University of the West Indies, Mona on September 12.
According to Dr. Green, the Summit will enable member states to learn and share experiences as they move to resolve and minimize the impact of NCDs.
Chairman of the Caribbean Commission on Health and Development (CCHD), Sir George Alleyne, said that the Summit is being held in recognition that the region can do more as it relates to NCDs. Among the objectives, he said, is to engage the Community and inform the Caribbean people of the magnitude of the problem.
“When you go around and speak to the average person, there is not that sensitivity to the magnitude of the problem, so one of the outcomes of this Summit has to be a sensitization of the Caribbean people of the magnitude of the problem and the possible solutions,” Sir George said.
Stating that the event will address lifestyle programmes, among other things, Sir George said that, “what the Summit will not do is focus attention on individuals such as to say to [them] that you are naughty to smoke, you are naughty [because] you are fat, you are naughty [because] you do not exercise”.
He noted further that “the Summit will embrace two aspects, which are the responsibility of the individual and the responsibility to change the enabling environment, so that the individual can act in a more proper way.”
Acknowledging the potential of this “one of a kind” Summit to spur action beyond CARICOM, Sir George informed that “Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas [St. Kitts and Nevis] has said that he intends to raise [NCDs issues] at the level of the Commonwealth Heads of Government and he hopes to bring to the attention of the Commonwealth Heads, the experience of the Caribbean, because this is really the first time to my knowledge in the world that any group of Heads of Government have gotten together to discuss this issue.”
“Prime Minister Douglas is quite emphatic about this and he hopes he gets the concurrence of the fellow Heads to raise this at the Summit in Uganda in November. You can imagine the possible repercussion if the 77 Heads of Commonwealth have the same kind of interest as the Caribbean Heads,” he reasoned.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Jamaica, Dr. Shelia Campbell-Forrester, is expected to attend the Summit.
In 2005, some 35 million people died from NCDs globally. In Latin America and the Caribbean, two out of every three deaths are attributable to NCDs. In the Americas, the Caribbean is the region with the worst mortality and morbidity profile for NCDs, which represent the predominant cause of illness and the most common cause of death.

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