CARICOM Ministers in Russia for health talks

MOSCOW, Russia, Friday April 29, 2011 – Two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ministers of Health have travelled here to participate in three major global health events on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), as the region steps up its preparation for the UN High Level Meeting on Chronic Disease prevention later this year.

Dr Leslie Ramsammy of Guyana and Donville Innis of Barbados and regional officials are among the 100 Health Ministers and other government representatives who have gathered at the World Trade Centre in Moscow to participate in the staging of the first World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Forum titled ‘Addressing the challenge of Non-Communicable Diseases’.

They attended Wednesday’s launch of the first WHO Global Status Report on NCDs, as well as the staging of the first two-day Global Ministerial Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Non-Communicable Disease Control, which opened yesterday morning.

The WHO report, which provides global, regional and country-specific statistics, cites NCDs as the leading causes of death in the world and notes that 36.1 million people died in 2008 from conditions such as heart disease, strokes, chronic lung diseases, cancers and diabetes. Nearly 80 percent of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

The report said that millions of deaths can be prevented by stronger implementation of existing measures such as stronger anti-tobacco controls and promoting healthier diets, physical activity and reducing the harmful use of alcohol.

It also recommends raising taxes on tobacco, banning tobacco advertising and legislating to curb smoking in public places. Other measures include reducing the levels of salt in foods and stopping the inappropriate marketing of unhealthy food and non-alcoholic beverages to children.

A CARICOM statement said that those recommendations are in sync with the regional body’s advocacy against NCDs and are implicit in the 15-point actions of the Port-of-Spain Declaration – Uniting to Stop Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases – to which CARICOM Heads of Government had committed since September 15, 2007 and which is now being implemented in the Caribbean. 

It is the promotion of this Declaration among other lobby efforts which has secured for the Caribbean a victory in getting the United Nations to pass a resolution to hold a high level meeting on NCDS.

The Moscow meetings are critical to the fine-tuning of the final Outcome Document for the September 19-20 UN High Level Meeting in New York, and CARICOM is making sure that this region’s priorities as they relate to NCDs are included in that document.

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