Mon | Jul 15, 2019

Incoming CARICOM chairman to tackle chronic NCDs in 2019

Published:Sunday | December 30, 2018 | 10:48 AM
Incoming chairman of CARICOM St Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Incoming chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Prime Minister of St Kitts Nevis Dr Timothy Harris, says 2019 will be the year to combat chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) across the region.

In his New Year’s message, Harris said CARICOM will enter 2019 with “a renewed vigour and determination to maintain the momentum with which we ended 2018”.

He added that at the core of the region’s thrust for growth and development is a well-educated and healthy workforce.

He said chronic NCD’s is a threat to the region’s sustainable development – a concern highlighted at a meeting at the United Nations earlier in the year.

“Our Community’s commitment to battle against the ravages caused by chronic non-communicable diseases is unrelenting. Our Ministers of Health have agreed on a programme called Caribbean Moves which seeks to create a culture of regular physical activity and healthy eating through exciting, fun and supportive programs where people live, work, study and play. It is a whole society approach that we must embrace to tackle this continuing threat to our greatest resource – our people.”

The St Kitts Nevis prime minister also said 2019 will be the final year of the region’s first five-year Strategic Plan and preparations have already begun for the second plan, which will build on the accomplishments of its predecessor.

“There is no doubt that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy is the linchpin of our efforts at sustainable growth and development and in the coming year we will be looking to further advance its implementation from what has been achieved in 2018,” he said. 

Pointing to the 30th Inter-sessional meeting of CARICOM leaders in February, Harris said a special session will be held on Air and Maritime Transportation to focus on the critical aspect of integration.

“An efficient and affordable transportation system would be a tremendous stimulus to trade and intra-regional tourism thereby strengthening two critical aspects of integration.”

He said the region will also be making strides in implementing a Human Resource Development Strategy 2030 “as we move to draft the new school curriculum with particular emphasis on Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).” 

Harris said the new year will be one that is full of action for the regional grouping. 

“It is a year in which I look forward to us all being part of the celebration at CARIFESTA XIV which will be held during the period 16-25 August 2019, in Trinidad and Tobago, under the theme “The Tangible and Intangible – Connect, Share, Invest”.

He also lauded the leadership of current CARICOM chairman, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

“He has set a standard which, with the help of my colleague heads of Government, the secretariat and the regional institutions I will strive to match. May we all have a Happy, Healthy and Productive New Year.”