Jamaica News: Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has renewed the call for the Caribbean to become a smoke-free region.
Addressing a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) breakfast in New York today (September 27) to launch the ‘Caribbean Moves’ exercise programme, he said this is one of six top priorities in the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which he and fellow CARICOM leaders endorsed earlier this year.
“I implore all of us to step it up. The health of our people is the wealth of our nations, and we must remain steadfast and committed to the cause of fighting NCDs as we move our people to a healthier life,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Holness, who is in New York for the United Nations 73rd General Assembly, said that poor households are more vulnerable to the risk factors of NCDs, and having to deal with an NCD can wipe out a family’s entire income.
The breakfast meeting, held under the theme ‘Moving Caribbean people towards healthier lives – Step it up’, was part of the Third UN High-Level Meeting on Non Communicable Diseases.
Several other CARICOM Heads of Government, who are also in New York for the UN General Assembly, took part in the event.
Mr. Holness, who is also the current Chairman of CARICOM, said that NCDs account for three out of four deaths in the Americas, with a significant amount happening “during our most productive years, with 40 per cent occurring between the ages of 30 and 39 years”.
The Prime Minister noted that NCDs are recognised as a threat to development and well-being, generally, and is captured in Sustainable Development Goal 3.4, which seeks, by 2030, to reduce, by one-third, premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.
Other CARICOM priorities to tackle NCDs highlighted by Mr. Holness include implementing policies to prevent childhood obesity; health-promoting school environments and package labelling; promoting the elimination of cancer of the cervix; support for mitigation of post disaster vulnerabilities related to NCDs, in particular nutrition, treatment and care.
He explained that these priorities are intended to guide member states in the negotiation of the Outcome Document for the Third High-Level Meeting on NCDs.
Mr. Holness also reported some CARICOM achievements, among them that all countries now have in place a national NCD plan, and several territories have established NCD Commissions.
There has also been agreement on the framework and monitoring tool that guides the region’s response, and there are now regional standards for tobacco labelling.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, who also addressed the meeting; and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith.
Source: JIS News