Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 9 May, 2019. The Caribbean remains the region of the Americas worst affected by the epidemic of chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. In Latin America and the Caribbean, NCDs are the leading cause of premature death, accounting for nearly half of all deaths of persons under 70 years, and for two out of three deaths overall. The costs are simply not sustainable for governments, employers, and families.
“The conditions of work and the work environment can either have a positive or negative impact on our health and well-being. Most persons spend one-third of their adult life at work. In light of this, workplace health promotion and wellness is beneficial to all,” stated Dr. C. James Hospedales, Executive Director at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
CARPHA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce (CAIC) on Thursday 9 May 2019. The agreement aims to establish a joint partnership to support the improvement of work productivity by addressing public health concerns related to NCDs, vector-borne diseases, climate change and tourism; and also support the development of the CARPHA Foundation.
The agreement was signed at CARPHA’s Headquarters by Dr C. James Hospedales and Mr. Dav-Ernan Kowlessar, Head of the CAIC Secretariat.
Mr. Kowlessar stated, “The CAIC is committed to influencing and shaping the Caribbean private sector as a world class brand that is competitive by becoming more innovative and productive in a resilient environment. To achieve this, the productivity of our workforce in both the goods and services sectors must be grounded in a healthy culture supported by the appropriate health infrastructure. We are committed to achieving the UN Sustainable Goals for the region and through this relationship with CARPHA and other agencies we are focused on Goal 3 – Good health and well-being, Goal 8 – decent work and economic growth, Goal 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure, and Goal 17 – partnerships to achieve the goal.”
“This partnership will advocate for the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Best Buys for NCD prevention and control within the workplace. It will also support public health advocacy efforts to ensure appropriate health insurance coverage and adequate funding for the health care safety net,” said Dr. Hospedales.
Other areas of collaboration will be the provision of public health information of value, such as information on cost-effective health improvement strategies or emergency preparedness measures, to business support organisations, trade associations, and businesses that share concerns about important issues, such as the costs of ill health of an aging workforce or the potential disruption of and impact on commerce of a sudden disease outbreak.
The 5-year agreement will also see CAIC contributing to CARPHA’s existing Tourism and Health programme. Specifically, CAIC is expected to be one of the stakeholders providing technical support towards the establishment of a “Healthier and Safer Destination Assured” Accreditation recognition mechanism for the Tourism Industry through the development and enhancement of the use of the Regional Tourism Health Information, Monitoring and Response Systems (THMRS) and Standards to Enhance Sustainable Tourism.