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Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, has said that the region’s collaborative approach to addressing HIV/AIDS has been very successful, attracting major partners and worldwide accolade, including commendation from the United Nations (UN).
The UN, he said, has declared the Pan Caribbean Partnership for HIV/AIDS as a model to be replicated across the world, in the fight against the disease.
Dr. Douglas was on July 7 updating the media on his report to other CARICOM Heads, on the issues of HIV, health, and human resource in the region, for which he has prime ministerial responsibility.
The press conference was convened at the Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay St. James, where Heads are assembled for the final day of the 31st Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, which started on July 4.
The Pan Caribbean Partnership for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean is one of two important initiatives which Heads, in 2001, agreed on, as a means of tackling regional health matters in a coordinated way.
The other important initiative is the Caribbean Cooperation in Health (CCH), which is now in its third phase. The aim of the CCH is to develop and implement programmes, focusing action and resources on priority health issues of common concern to the Caribbean community, with particular consideration given to vulnerable groups.
It is intended that through the initiative, CARICOM states will be able to, among other things: reduce costs associated with duplicating services or mobilising extra-regional assistance; access, mobilise and optimise national and external resources to address selected health issues; share expertise and experience with other Caribbean countries especially in addressing similar problems; and participate in planning the future of regional health.
Turning to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Prime Minister Douglas said the issue is a worrying one, and has been brought to various fora, most recently, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Port of Spain, Trinidad, last year.
“Our Ambassadors at the United Nations picked up on this and had a resolution brought to the United Nations General Assembly, which has now agreed that this matter of such vital importance to the world, that the United Nations, next year, will be having a special high level session, specifically to deal with the problem of NCDs,” he informed. Dr. Douglas noted that a Commission, which was previously appointed by CARICOM to look into health and development in the Caribbean region, had brought the matter of NCDs to the fore.
“We recognised that there was a serious threat to our development with regard to the non-communicable diseases (such as) cardiac diseases, diabetes, hypertension, and the fact that a lot of our people were not eating properly, were not exercising. Great concern was raised in this particular Commission report as to what needed to be done to deal with this problem, which was hampering the continued development of the Caribbean people,” he explained.