On Friday Feb 17, over 50 stakeholders met in Antigua and Barbuda for a one and a half day meeting to discuss NCD Advocacy, Accountability and conflict of Interest in the Caribbean. The meeting hosted by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition in partnership with the Antigua & Barbuda Ministry of Health and the Environment, had participants hailing from 11 Caribbean territories and representing all sectors of society including NCD NGOs, non health NGOs, medical associations, service clubs, private sector, academia, governments, and regional public health institutions. National and regional partners and supporters included: the Antigua & Barbuda Diabetes Association; the Antigua & Barbuda Medical Association; the American University of Antigua; the Peter Moores Foundation; the Open Campus of the University of the West Indies; CARPHA; and PAHO/WHO. The meeting was supported by the NCD Alliance as part of the Expanding Access to Care, Supporting Global, regional and Country level NCD Action Programme in partnership with Medtronic Philanthropy.
The goal of the meeting was to build civil society capacity around NCD advocacy, accountability and conflict of interest. Speakers included the Hon Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph; Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus of PAHO and Patron of HCC; Dr. James Hospedales, Executive Director of PAHO; and Professor Jeff Collin, Professor of Global Health Policy, University of Edinburgh. The HCC was also pleased to have present Dr. Karen Cummings, Minister in the Guyana Ministry of Public Health.
Significant outputs of the meeting included: sharing of experiences around advocacy, accountability and COI in the region from the perspective of various stakeholders; review of a draft CSO Simple Monitoring Scorecard for Childhood Obesity; review of a draft Regional CSO Advocacy campaign to ban sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) in schools; development of a concept for an HCC COI Policy; and the launch of the HCC Strategic Plan 2017-2021.
The HCC was honoured to have the Minister of Health of Antigua and Barbuda officially open the meeting with his inspirational words which called for ‘unity of purpose, among Caribbean governments, civil society alliances such as HCC, the private sector, other non-governmental organisations, mass media and private individuals from every sector and profession in the region’ as we collectively seek to address NCDs. He further called on civil society advocates to be ‘bold and creative … consistent and relentless’. Minister Joseph used the occasion to announce the formation of the Antigua and Barbuda Wellness Commission.
The meeting provided a forum for CSOs to share experiences of advocacy ranging from tobacco control, engaging men around cancer prevention, SSB taxation and sharing a regional campaign for banning SSBs in schools. Accountability and it’s reality in the Caribbean for diverse stakeholders with similar experiences of resource limitations, was discussed in depth with Dr. Alafia Samuels highlighting the significant burden of reporting faced by ministries of health and CSOs sharing similar challenges as they related to the capacity and resources to play the important ‘watchdog’ role. An accountability tool for CSO monitoring of national childhood obesity policy responses was shared and reviewed. Finally, guided by Prof Jeff Collins and Dr. Derrick Aarons, delegates to the meeting explored the difficult and complex issue of conflict of interest especially within the context of small island developing states; and began the process of framing a COI policy to guide the work of the HCC as the organisation seeks to expand partnerships with a diverse and interconnected regional private sector.
Sir George Alleyne closed the meeting with his vision of the CSO movement in the Caribbean – ‘my vision is of a mighty association of Caribbean people and organisations, united in a grand design, stripped of sectoral and linguistic chains, and driven by the urgency of breaking the advance of NCDs in our space’
HCC President, Sir Trevor Hassell and Executive Director, Maisha Hutton, were extremely pleased with the meeting. ‘We are a small organisation, entering the tenth year of our formation with great ambitions and titanic dreams, and as we do so we feel so incredibly proud to see the fruits of our efforts and the depth of support we have from our partners in civil society, government and private sector across the Caribbean. We however cannot stress enough that the success of the HCC is a direct result of the work of NCD NGOs across the Caribbean and the partnerships formed with colleagues in Ministries of Health and increasingly non health ministries, PAHO, CARPHA and our many international supporters not least of which is the NCD Alliance’
- The role of civil society as advocates and watchdogs in NCD prevention and control in the Caribbean – Sir George Alleyne
- My vision for the Civil Society NCD movement in the Caribbean – Sir George Alleyne
- Address by Hon. Molwyn Joseph, Minister of Health and the Environment Antigua & Barbuda
- Determining and Implementing Policy in CARICOM – Vincent Atkins, LDC Trade Policy, Office of Trade Negotiations CARICOM Secretariat/Technical Advisor HCC Trade Policy Advisor, Healthy Caribbean Coalition
- Determining and Implementing Policy (CARICOM commitments) at Regional and National Level – Dr C. James Hospedales, Executive Director, CARPHA
- Overview of national, regional and international NCD reporting systems – Dr T. Alafia Samuels, Director, Chronic Disease Research Centre, Deputy Dean, Research and Graduate Studies, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Cave Hill campus University of the West indies
- Civil Society Led Advocacy in Action – Catalysing National Policy and Programmes” The JCTC experience – Barbara McGaw, Project Adviser – Tobacco Control Jamaica Coalition For Tobacco Control/Tobacco Advisor Healthy Caribbean Coalition
- Multisectoral Action Influencing Public Policy – Marvlyn Birmingham, President Dominica Diabetes Association
- Laying the Foundation for a Better Future – Nicole Jordan, The Trinidad and Tobago Cancer Society
- The Role of the HSFB in the Passage of Legislation Banning Smoking in Public Places – Fiona Anthony CEO HSFB
- Bringing Men to The Fore – Lincoln Robinson, Jamaica Cancer Society
- Managing Conflict of Interest to Improve Governance in the Muli-sectoral Response to NCDs – Jeff Collin, Global Public Health Unit, School of Social & Political Science, University of Edinburgh
- Raising Awareness of Challenges of Conflict of Interest in the Caribbean – Derrick Aarons, MB.BS.(UWI), M.Sc.(Bioethics), PhD(McGill), Ethicist – the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)
- Experiences and challenges in addressing COI – short case studies from across the region – JCTC – Tobacco Industry January 2017 – Barbara McGaw, Project Adviser – Tobacco Control Jamaica Coalition For Tobacco Control/Tobacco Advisor Healthy Caribbean Coalition
- Barbados NCD Commission – Governance, Management and Conflict of Interest – Elsa Webster, Barbados Association of Retired Persons, Member of Barbados NCD Commission
- Should the Healthy Caribbean Coalition be involved in this proposal? A case study – Dr Rohan Mahara, Senior Lecturer in Family Medicine and a Fellow of the Caribbean College of Family Physicians. HCC Alcohol Policy Advisor
- Panel Presentation: Experiences and Challenges in Addressing COI – Examples from the Region – Dr Joy St. John, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Barbados MOH
- “To see the Caribbean leading the world in wellness” Experiences and challenges in addressing COI – Dr T. Alafia Samuels, Director, Chronic Disease Research Centre, Deputy Dean, Research and Graduate Studies, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Cave Hill campus, University of the West indies
- Panel Presentation: Experiences and challenges in addressing COI – examples from the region – Dr Tomo Kanda, Advisor on Chronic Diseases and Mental Health Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, Office for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Countries
- Healthy Caribbean Coalition Strategic Plan 2017-2021 – Dr Beverley Barnett, Public Health Consultant
- HCC Evaluation HCC Strategic Planning Presentation of Findings of Independent High Level External Evaluation of HCC – Dr Karen Sealey, Former Special Adviser, UN and Partnerships, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, HCC Board Member
- Accountability: Role of Stakeholders in monitoring NCD commitments – CARPHA
- Healthy Caribbean Coalition Updates – Professor Sir Trevor Hassell, President HCC and Maisha Hutton, Executive Director HCC
See photos from the meeting below.