St Kitts and Nevis (WINN):  It's the 10th anniversary of the CARICOM Heads Non Communicable Diseases Summit and declaration uniting to stop the epidemic of chronic Non Communicable Diseases, and Caribbean leaders are acknowledging they have not sufficiently advanced the recommended actions.

A communiqué issued at issued at the end of the 30th Heads of Government Conference held in Grenada last week reads that leaders recognized that the community had not sufficiently advanced the recommended actions with regard to the Declaration and in that regard recommitted themselves to the promotion of healthy lifestyles to combat the epidemic of NCDs.

It continued ‘Heads of Government supported the use of inter-sectoral approaches to address current health challenges. They noted with concern that obesity in children represented the greatest threat to the health of future generations with the level of overweight and obesity being more than 30% in both primary and secondary school populations in many Member States.

Heads of Government also supported the strengthening of domestic food production along with the promotion and consumption of nutritious indigenous foods. 

Heads of Government urged the promotion of Physical Exercise in school-age children and an acceleration of the Public Education Program on Healthy lifestyles.

Heads of Government received a message from Mr. Michael Bloomberg ensuring his support and welcomed the interest expressed by the Bloomberg Foundation in NCD prevention in the region.'

WINN FM spoke to Dr. Patrick Martin, former Chief Medical Officer about his thoughts on the communique regarding NCDs.

“In 2007 the heads of government met to discuss one item on an agenda, the first time in the world that heads of the governments met to discuss a single item and that was NCDs. At that time the technocrats including the Chief Medical Officers presented evidence of a looming disaster called NCDs. So the heads of government came up with a plan in 2007 but the plan was not budgeted and therein lies the problem. So it was left for CARICOM organizations to try to find money to implement the various plans. Well that takes time, so ten years later in 2017, to my mind, this is a refreshingly honest assessment of heads of government that the ball was dropped, yes there was a plan, but no we did not allocate the money to implement the plan hence, obesity is getting worse. [There is a] thirty percent obesity rate among CARICOM school children but in St Kitts and Nevis it’s almost fifty percent and so it appears as though now the heads of government has endorsed a relationship between the CARICOM Health Agencies and the Bloomberg Foundation. The Bloomberg Foundation is very active in the fight to combat NCDs and of course Bloomberg also brings some deep pockets to the table, that’s a good thing. So hopefully in 2018 we will hear some progress made in terms of 1) fostering domestic food production by putting in subsidies to support local farmers and fishers 2) restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods and sugar sweetened beverages on local media and 3) raising the taxes on the foods and beverages that are known to stimulate obesity.”



Clive Bacchus
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