Healthy Caribbean Coalition Launches Online Petition in Jamaica

Photo: Contributed Communications and Advocacy Officer, Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) , Francine Charles, addressing participatns at the Caribbean Non-communicable Disease Forum at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on Monday (April 23), where the HCC’s ‘Too Much Junk’ online petition was launched for Jamaica.

Story Highlights

  • The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) launched its ‘Too Much Junk’ online petition in Jamaica on Monday (April 23), in the hope of reducing obesity in children across the country.
  • The launch took place at The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, during the HCC Caribbean Non-communicable Disease Forum, which was held under the theme ‘Supporting national advocacy in the lead-up to the 2018 High Level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases’.
  • These include imposing of a tax of not less than 20 per cent of sugar-sweetened beverages; banning the sale, promotion and marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages and unhealthy fast food in schools; and adopting and applying regional standards for nutritional and front-of-package labelling of foods and beverages.

The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) launched its ‘Too Much Junk’ online petition in Jamaica on Monday (April 23), in the hope of reducing obesity in children across the country.

The petition is part of a regional campaign aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles among children.

The launch took place at The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, during the HCC Caribbean Non-communicable Disease Forum, which was held under the theme ‘Supporting national advocacy in the lead-up to the 2018 High Level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases’.

This petition calls on CARICOM Heads of Government to reduce childhood obesity by enacting several policies and legislations.

These include imposing of a tax of not less than 20 per cent of sugar-sweetened beverages; banning the sale, promotion and marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages and unhealthy fast food in schools; and adopting and applying regional standards for nutritional and front-of-package labelling of foods and beverages.

Communications and Advocacy Officer for the HCC, Francine Charles, said the petition has been launched in Jamaica out of the entity’s concern about the number of children who are obese.

“One in every three children in this region is overweight and obese and at risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease and hypertension. That’s a real sad story for people who we say ‘are the future of this region’,” she stated.

In this regard, Ms. Charles advised that the HCC is developing a programme to tackle the issue at the school level, adding that various civil society organisations across the region are focused on other approaches in their respective territories.

These, she said, include exercise programmes, parenting education, and educational campaigns on television and radio.

Against this background, Ms. Charles commended the Ministry of Health on its ‘Jamaica Moves’ campaign, and said the HCC supports their efforts and policies that encourage Jamaicans to adopt healthier lifestyles.

She also emphasised the need for the implementation of supporting policy changes.

“The thing is, we cannot escape the need for policy change. We need policy change to create a supportive environment for this to work. We cannot escape the fact that there are tested and tried policy advocacy approaches that have made a difference in other parts of the world, and here as well,” Ms. Charles stated.

She urged regional leaders and other stakeholders to support the petition by signing the online version at www.toomuchjunk.org, while advising that “we need to act now”.

The three-day regional multi-stakeholder civil society-led Forum was held in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Pan American Health Organization, Sagicor Life Inc, Caribbean Public Health Agency, University of the West Indies Open Campus, Heart Foundation of Jamaica, the Diabetics Association of Jamaica and NCD Alliance.

The Forum was aimed at mobilising and bringing together regional civil society organisations and other key stakeholders to ensure that the Caribbean is fully engaged in the third United Nations High Level Meeting (UNHLM) on non-communicable diseases.

Among the objectives were taking stock of NCDs in the Caribbean, harmonising CARICOM priority areas for the UNHLM 2018, discussing strategies to encourage the highest level of political attendance at the 2018 UNHLM, and exploring post-2018 strategies.

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