Kingston, Jamaica. “As non-communicable diseases continue to be a major public health and economic burden for the Region, and especially as the situation has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the timing of the commencement of the Caribbean Moves programme provides Member States with yet another platform to strengthen health promotion programmes, and increase the momentum of ongoing national programmes for the prevention and control of NCDs and their risk factors,” stated CARPHA’s Executive Director, Dr Joy St. John.
Dr. St. John was speaking at the launch of the Caribbean Moves Initiative, which took place on 14 September 2022 - the eve of CARPHA’s 66th Annual Health Research Conference in Jamaica.
The event was hosted in collaboration with the Jamaica Ministry of Health & Wellness, the Caribbean Development Bank, CARICOM, Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on behalf of CARICOM and with the support of a Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Grant Agreement; ‘Development of Caribbean Moves: An Initiative to Reduce Non-Communicable Diseases’ Project, has been leading a feasibility study for the Caribbean Moves Initiative, which is to be modelled after Jamaica Moves, and three other countries that have launched the initiative nationally: Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago. CARPHA will seek to systematically expand the initiative regionally. The latest country to launch their national moves programme was St. Lucia on September 09, 2022.
In the Caribbean Region, NCDs are the leading cause of death and disability, accounting for more than 65% of all deaths. NCDs include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, chronic lower respiratory diseases, sickle cell disease, mental illness, and injuries.
“We view this as a vital and commendable community of practice born out of one of our borrowing member countries, Jamaica. This is a prime example of how the countries of the Region can support each other, exchange ideas, share best practices and use home grown innovation to solve our common problems,” remarked CDB Vice President Mr. Isaac Solomon.
Looking forward to increased youth engagement in the Caribbean Moves initiative, Ms. Renee Atwell, Dean, CARICOM Youth Ambassador Programme said “Young people are no stranger to NCDs, the lifestyle practices which can often be prevalent among this age group such as smoking, drinking, use of drugs, poor diet and lack of exercise can all lead to an increased risk of NCDs. Therefore, policy and strong public education are required to combat NCDs and ensure that all cross sections of society are engaged for maximum results.”
In his remarks, Sir Trevor Hassell, President of HCC said “Caribbean Moves now provides an opportunity for a meaningful, multisector, all of society approach to NCD prevention and control. At the same time, it provides an enabling environment for implementation of requisite legislation, policies, and strategic targeted programmes to prevent and control NCDs and risk factors. The HCC commits its fullest participation in, and support for Caribbean Moves.”
Mr. Dean Chambliss, Subregional Program Director, PAHO/ WHO Subregional Program Office: “It is clear that we have several challenges to reducing NCD rates in our region, including promotion of healthful behaviours. Caribbean Moves is crucial now more than ever due the physical distancing and working from home practiced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in people’s limited physical and social activity. This situation often exacerbated mental health and NCD conditions. I am however certain that the Caribbean Moves campaign will have a direct positive impact on people’s active lifestyles”.
“We have to come to terms with the realisation that we love our culture, we love our food, we love our socialisation but if we overindulge in certain things, it’s going to lead to another challenge, a health challenge,” said Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. The Honourable Christopher Tufton. “What we are trying to do is enjoy ourselves in a healthier way. Caribbean Moves is about having fun, enjoying your culture, enjoying your history, enjoying your identity, whether it’s roti and curry or ackee and saltfish, but doing it in moderation.” He reminded persons to move, and get health checks, check their blood pressure, and not wait until they are sick to go to the doctor.
Ms. Alison Drayton, Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, CARICOM, acknowledged the impact of Non-Communicable Diseases on the productive population of the region, stating “Today, we embark on a journey to develop an expanded flagship Regional Health Programme to promote healthy behaviours and practices for improved health outcomes. The development of the Caribbean Moves initiative is undoubtedly a timely and relevant regional response which has the potential to reach a wide cross-section of Caribbean citizens, reenergizing them to adopt healthy lifestyles.”
In his feature address, The Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, Prime Minister and Minister of Health St. Kitts and Nevis, and Lead Head of Government for Health in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet of the Heads of Government expressed “I am elated that CARPHA is embracing and expanding the Caribbean Wellness mechanisms to mitigate and manage non-communicable diseases at the individual, organisational, community, national and regional levels, as a priority. I therefore, make the clarion call for us collectively as a Region to effectively harness the power to bring the vision of a healthier Caribbean to life. I am further delighted that there is a strong genuine emphasis and a regional commitment to tackle the epidemic of NCDs in the Caribbean for a vision of a healthier Caribbean.”
Caribbean Moves is an initiative aimed at reducing the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean by engaging with a broad cross-section of public and private sector organisations to promote and support preventive health behaviours (aligned with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Best Buys for NCD prevention) and create and facilitate a supportive environment.
The launch event took place at Emancipation Park in New Kingston, Jamaica and included healthy food demonstrations, health screenings and physical activity sessions.
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