Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met on Wednesday, July 13, to review updates on strengthening the regional health system even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The 30th Meeting of Chief Medical Officers was convened virtually and saw them discussing inter alia, the CARPHA-led response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the current state of inoculation for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
Issues concerning the implementation of the Port-of-Spain Declaration that sets out CARICOM’s actions to address the high burden of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) were also on the agenda. This included a presentation from the Programme Manager, Health Sector Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Karen Gordon-Boyle. She updated the meeting on the joint policy decision by the Council for Human and Social Development and the Council for Trade and Economic Development to recognise trans-fats as harmful to health and to support the efforts of the Inter-Governmental Working Group (IGWG) on Unhealthy Diets and Obesogenic Food to eliminate industrially produced trans fatty acids (IP-TFA) from the regional food supply.
A CROSQ-led process to establish policy guidelines on a Front of Package Labelling system for CARICOM was also a key part of the discussion among the Chief Medical Officers. The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) has been working to develop a standard for food package labelling that will allow consumers to quickly tell whether foods are high in sugars, salt, and trans-fat.
The meeting was also updated on a campaign aimed at promoting actions including regular exercise and healthy eating, to reduce the onset of NCDs. This campaign resides within an initiative like Jamaica Moves called Caribbean Moves.
The meeting also discussed recommendations from the Caribbean Heart Institute to enhance Member States’ capacity to manage Acute Myocardial Infarction through the development of a regional strategy that will create hubs of specialist service delivery referred to as centres of excellence.
In addition, the CMOs considered matters pertaining to CARICOM’s involvement in international cooperation on health, coordinated by the WHO and PAHO.
At the opening of the meeting, Director for Human and Social Development within the CARICOM Secretariat, Helen Royer applauded the “heroic efforts” of Chief Medical Officers, who, along with the regional mechanism for coordination on health security, mounted an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The coordinated and proactive steps you took complemented by a collaborative response by CARPHA, the team from CDEMA, UWI, PAHO, OECS, and CARICOM helped us as a Region to stay afloat,” Royer stated.
Even as the Region celebrates the successes of its coordinated response to COVID-19, Royer encouraged the CMOs to keep their guards up during the hurricane season which started on June 1.
She also urged them to contemplate what measures CARICOM needs to take to avert or delay the importation of Monkey Pox to the Region.