March 4, 2011

Caricom prepares for High Level UN Meeting on NCDs

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is stepping up preparations for the United Nations High Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in September 2011.{{more}}

In this regard, Heads of Government, at the recently concluded Intersessional Meeting in Grenada, agreed to organise national consultations, involving a wide range of stakeholders, to garner inputs for the Meeting in September.

They also agreed to ensuring representation of the Region at the highest level at the High Level Meeting.

The UN September meeting came as a result of much lobby efforts which led to a Resolution introduced by CARICOM Member States at the United Nations in May 2010. The Resolution, which was co-sponsored by more than 100 Member States, included a called for a high level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) to address the pressing health problem of Chronic Non-Communicable Disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide; and to address the burden of these diseases on the economies of developing countries.

CARICOM Heads of Government, in discussing its agenda for the UN High Level Meeting, also agreed that the Community would focus on getting three priority areas included in the Outcome Document of the Meeting.

The major priority area, according to Heads of Government, would be the adoption of appropriate policies that would address chronic risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol, diet and lack of physical exercises.

In addition, the Community plans to advocate for the reengineering of health systems and services and the strengthening of systems for access to low cost pharmaceuticals and supplies as well as those for surveillance and monitoring and evaluation of programmes.

While all UN Member States have been working closely with the World Health Organization / Pan-American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO) on combating Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases, it is the Caribbean Community that has been applauded for assuming global leadership on NCDs.

The 2006 historic CARICOM Heads of Government Summit on NCDs held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, was the first such gathering of Heads of Government in the World.

From that Summit, CARICOM Heads of Government had issued the Port-of-Spain Declaration – Uniting to Stop Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases. The fifteen actionable recommendations which resulted acted as a model for most leading international fora such as the Organisation of American States (OAS) Summit, the World Health Assembly and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings in 2007 and 2009.