Caribbean countries discuss non communicable diseases

By Benjamin Flowers

This week, representatives from countries all over the Caribbean met in Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago, to discuss the regional repose to rising incidences of non-communicable diseases (NCD)s.

The two-day workshop, held at the Hilton Hotel, review the results of an expert evaluation of the 2007 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Port of Spain Declaration on NCDs, and began working on an action plan.

During the course of the workshop, participants explored a range of issues surrounding the Port of Spain Declaration’s 27 ambitious commitments.

They also established specific working groups to examine such areas as diet, food and food security; reducing alcohol-related harm; tobacco control; physical activity and the built environment; promoting health in specific settings like workplaces and schools; financing NCD prevention and control; and advocacy and communication.

At the opening ceremony, representatives such as Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, Dr Alafia Samuels, Director of the Chronic Disease Research Centre and Chair, and Jessie Schutt-Aine of the Pan American Health Organization gave remarks on the importance of the exercise and how it will benefit the region in terms of addressing the regions NCD problem.

In September 2007, the CARICOM Heads of Government met in T&T and and made the declaration which focused on alleviating regional governments of the burden on their health systems caused by NCDs.

The declaration included points like setting regional reduction targets, refining trade policies and practices, health education information to be disseminated throughput the region through the education system ,and the establishment of Caribbean Wellness Day.

The Canadian International Development Research Council (IDRC), funded the declaration’s review, which was led by the University of the West Indies on behalf of CARICOM and Pan American Health Organization.

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