Non-Communicable Diseases in the Caribbean
Healthy Caribbean Coalition Press Release *For Immediate Release* Date: March 20th , 2014
Regional Status Report Launch: The Response to NCDs in the Caribbean Community
(Port-‐of-‐Spain, Trinidad & Bridgetown, Barbados) A major step towards the reducton of Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs) was made today with the launch of the Regional Status Report on NCDs in the Caribbean at the NCD Child Conference, Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-‐of-‐Spain, Trinidad. The report, sponsored by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) , was prepared by a team led by Professor Nigel Unwin of the Faculty of Public Health UWI, Cave Hill Campus. Professor Sir Trevor Hassell, President of the HCC, reported “What we have done is to assess actions that have been taken since the Heads of Government of CARICOM met in a seminal meeting here in Port of Spain in 2007 and issued the declaration of POS: uniting to stop the epidemic of NCDs, and since the UN High Level Meeting (UNHLM) on chronic diseases in 2011. As far as we know this is the first occasion that a review has been undertaken regionally by a civil society organisation to determine the response to chronic diseases in the Caribbean.” The 80 page report provides an assessment of what has been achieved, what has not been achieved, and advocates from a civil society perspective for what needs to be done to slow the epidemic of NCDs which is resulting in more than 7 out of every 10 deaths and has the potential to be a major barrier to development.
The main findings of the report are:
1. The Caribbean Region has played a significant role globally in advancing the response to NCDs.
2. Governments of the Region have for the most part accepted the concept that in order to effectively tackle the chronic diseases since they are lifestyle diseases all sectors of the society and all departments of government need to be involved and play their part.
3. Caribbean Wellness Day, which came out of the POS Declaration, has contributed to wide stakeholder involvement in the response to chronic disease.
4. Civil Society, especially health NGOs, continue to play a major role in the Caribbean especially in provision of services, fund raising, outreach and education about chronic diseases.
5. All but one CARICOM country has ratified the a WHO interntional treaty known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and some countries have enaactd legislation in support of mandates of the treaty.
6. There are no national policies against advertising of unhealthy foods to children, or against the harmful use of alcohol.
7. No CARICOM country has national policies or major initiatives amed at reducing salt intake of the population which has been shown to reduce blood pressure which is a major problem among Caribbean people and a major cause of heart disease.
8. Health systems in CARICOM provide services for NCDs in most CARICOM countries, with most of them providing medications at highly subsidised cost at point of delivery for NCDs. But some weaknesses identified in health systems included, lack of equipment for management of certain lung conditions, absence of some drugs such as tamoxifen, and lack of well-‐established rehabilitative services.
Report advocates for some important actions that need to be taken:
1. Banning (or at the very least limiting) the marketing of energy dense, high salt, foods and beverages to children;
2. Promoting reduction in salt consumption and reduction in consumption of sugar sweetened beverages (including fruit juices);
3. Banning the use/sale of transfats;
4. Establishment of regional standards for clear, consistent, food labelling;
5. Development of policies on physical activity; and development, implementation and monitoring of national strategies on the promotion of physical activity
6. Development of policies on reduction in harm from alcohol: development, implementation and monitoring of national strategies on the reduction in harm from alcohol.
7. Use of up to date regionally derived evidence based guidelines for the treatment and management of chronic diseases,
8. All residents within CARICOM countries/territories have access to basic defined packages of NCD care irrespective of their ability to pay.
9. Development and implementation of a framework for standardising the treatment of hypertension using available core medications.
10. Application of the chronic care model in the provision of primary health care services in countries.
11. NCDs to be fully addressed within national development plans.
12. Opportunities sought for multi-‐stakeholder approach to the response to NCDs by engaging major groups of the society such as Faith-‐based organisations, groups of retired persons, women’s groups, and workers representatives.
The report is one output of a grant provided by an international organisation known as the NCD Alliance and by Medtronic Philanthropy which is the philanthropic arm of Medtronic-‐ a leading international medical equipment company. The grant is aimed at strengthening health systems, and supporting action to effectively respond to the NCD epidemic. A similar report to that which has been produced here in the Caribbean by HCC, is being produced in Brazil and South Africa and is also funded by the NCD Alliance and Medtronic Philanthropy.
For Additional Information, please contact: Maisha Hutton Manager HCC Secretariat I River Road, St. Michael, Barbados, BB11155 I tel 246 435-7486 I skype:maishahuttonhcc