Participants at the meeting.
KINGSTON, Jamaica--Speaking at the opening of the first annual Caribbean Non-Communicable Disease (NCD), Nutrition, Mental Health Focal Points Review, and Capacity Building meeting, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency CARPHA Dr. Joy St. John said, “Non-communicable diseases have been a burden to us in [Caribbean Community – Ed.] CARICOM for far too long.
It is time to act effectively, time to fight and time to safeguard the lives of current and future generations from this heavy burden.”
The high prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure and other NCDs, as well as risk factors for these diseases, are of public health concern for the Caribbean region.
Under the theme “Moving from Data to Information for Action on NCDs”, the meeting took place in-person at the AC Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, and by virtual format, from September 13 to 14, 2022. The meeting was held as a preconference event of the CARPHA 66th Annual Health Research Conference, and was jointly funded by CARPHA, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Caribbean Cancer Registry Hub.
The meeting provided an overview of global, regional, and sub-regional commitments and targets for the prevention and control of NCDs and included presentations on promising and best practices to support national NCD programmes including cancer surveillance and food and nutrition surveillance systems. Additionally, participants were given an overview of and trained on the data collection, analysis, and reporting aspects of the regional NCD surveillance system.
Participants were also given the opportunity to begin development of country action plans to support reporting to the regional (Caribbean) surveillance system and conducted a business meeting of the Focal Points Network.
In his remarks, Subregional Programme Director of PAHO/WHO Dean Chambliss said that tackling NCDs involves a two-pronged approach – implementing public policy that directly addresses risk factors including through legislation, regulation, and healthful economic incentives, and empowering individuals to make healthy decisions about their personal behaviour and lifestyles and those of their families. Both require the collection and analysis of data to develop evidence that will inform the fight against NCDs in the Caribbean.
“AFD and CARPHA signed their first financing agreement to the tune of 1.5 million Euros to strengthen strategic, intelligence and partnership approaches to prevent and control non-communicable diseases and strengthen regional health security in the Caribbean region. The project perfectly reflects strengthening of regional cooperation and promotion of regional public assets mobilisation of expertise from French overseas territories which share the same vulnerabilities,” stated Regional Director for the Atlantic Region Marc Dubernet.
This inaugural hybrid meeting was attended by 80 persons from CARPHA, PAHO/WHO, CARICOM, HCC, AFD, national NCD, nutrition and mental health focal points, national epidemiologists and chief medical officers from 22 CARPHA member states – Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Haiti, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands – and Martinique.