Caribbean leaders praised over NCDs fight
Leaders in the Caribbean have been praised at a United Nations summit for being among the first to instigate political commitment to the ongoing fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Qatar’s Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, president of the session, said: “I want to pay tribute to CARICOM, particularly for ensuring that the response to NCDs has now been placed at the forefront of global efforts to eradicate poverty and to improve health.
“The CARICOM countries have taken a strong leadership role in giving a voice to the challenges faced by the millions of people with NCDs living in low- and middle-income countries around the world.”
Health ministers and other high-level representatives from Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Haiti, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname were present at an event organised by CARICOM called The Caribbean Takes Stock, which ran along the sidelines of the main UN event.
Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, said: “We have to take a multisector approach. We have to involve every single entity, every single area of endeavour, including the public sector and the private sector, and work together to see how we can help our societies overcome the threat of NCDs.”
President Michel Martelly of Haiti promised to make NCDs a top priority of his new government. “I am here to join and unite against NCDs. I do believe we can fight NCDs through education, a good healthcare system, and also by using prevention.”
The Caribbean has been particularly heavily affected by the rising epidemic of NCDs such as cancer, heart disease, chronic respiratory illness and diabetes. NCDs also have a significant economic impact, which threatens the development of the region’s small economies.
As a result, Caribbean leaders were prompt in mobilising internationally to tackle NCDs. Their 2007 heads of state summit – held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad – produced a joint Caribbean response to the NCD epidemic, in the form of a declaration, “Uniting to stop the epidemic of chronic non- communicable diseases”.
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