Sat | Nov 18, 2017

The fight against diabetes, strokes and other NCDs

Published:Wednesday | July 12, 2017 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson

The Gleaner has obtained the document submitted to CARICOM heads on the failure of many participating nations to implement agreed measures to address the epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes and strokes that politicians and experts have agreed "are literally killing us".

The leaders of the region met last week for their annual meeting in Grenada where, among other things, they considered an evaluation of the 2007 CARICOM heads of government Port-of-Spain Declaration against NCDs.

The CARICOM document noted that the meeting 10 years ago was seen as the catalyst that created the international focus on NCDs and the subsequent 2011 United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs.

"This led the secretary general of the UN to observe that the Caribbean punches above its weight in response to the global epidemic of chronic diseases," the document read.

But with the Caribbean now the region with the highest NCD mortality rate in the Americas, CARICOM has been told that the "region is in serious danger of losing that leadership position" because of the limited implementation of plans agreed at the 2007 summit.

 

WHY IS THE REGION FAILING ON CURBING NCD DEATHS?

 

- Only six member states have developed operational Plans for NCDs, and only four have set time-bound targets based on the World Health Organization Global Monitoring Framework.

- Only six member states have partially completed treatment protocols and all are yet to establish counselling programmes at the primary care level.

- Only three member states have regulated the sale of alcohol and none has firmly implemented policies on alcohol advertising.

- While the majority of member states have developed acceptable education programmes on nutrition, the implementation of control measures for salt and trans fat remains unacceptably low, with no regulation of predatory advertising of unhealthy foods to children.

- Only two member states have acceptable programmes on exclusive breastfeeding.

- Two countries, Barbados and Dominica, have implemented taxes on sugar sweetened beverages.

- In many CARICOM member states, the level of overweight and obesity is more than 30 per cent in both primary and secondary school populations - girls heavier than boys.

- CARICOM is made up of 15 member states and five associate members.