Antigua Minister of Health Honourable Molwyn Joseph – A Caribbean NCD Champion: ‘Walking the Talk’
During the 69th World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland, May 23 to 28, the President of the HCC Sir Trevor Hassell and Executive Director, Maisha Hutton, had the distinct pleasure of a candid chat with the Honourable Minister of Health of Antigua, Mr. Molwyn Joseph and his Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rhonda Sealey-Thomas. The Minister’s fresh and unapologetic approach to addressing chronic diseases in Antigua and Barbuda was exciting and inspiring. Quite simply Minister Joseph and his team, led by CMO Dr. Sealey-Thomas are ‘disrupting’ the status quo and making positive changes worthy of watching from across the Caribbean and globally.
Quite often when faced with challenges, I see opportunities…
As we ate lunch against the stunning backdrop of the Apls nestled on placid Lake Geneve, the Minister shared his personal philosophies on leadership, overcoming challenges and helping Antiguan’s to help themselves. ‘I always say if you observe people long enough they will tell you what they want and every morning and evening I would see people walking on the highways.’ The Minister took this as a signal that his people wanted recreational spaces and this catalysed the development of parks designed to support and encourage increased physical activity in each of the countries 6 districts. ‘Quite often when faced with challenges, I see opportunities…’ Minister Joseph commented as he shared his no nonsense plan to clean up his country in which he empowered and incentivised young men to become entrepreneurs leading the government’s initiative which has virtually changed the landscape of the country resulting in a cleaner, healthier purchase tramadol environment.
The Minister feels passionately about NCDs noting that ‘they represent one of the greatest opportunities to bring about an almost evangelical change’ and ‘upliftment of the whole country’. Minister Joseph recently endorsed the Ministry’s Wellness Committee which will lead the country’s multisectoral response to chronic diseases. The Wellness Committee will be the foundation for the establishment of a National Wellness Commission (National NCD Commission equivalent). The passage of No Tobacco legislation in keeping with the mandates of the FCTC and the imposition of taxes on sugar sweetened beverages are high on their priority list and expected to become a reality in the coming year.
‘Leadership is about helping people to fill the gaps in their lives.’
In 2007 the Caribbean demonstrated unprecedented collective political leadership sounding a global alarm that catalysed a series of political events leading to the UNHLM and the Political Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases. Almost 10 years on, Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO is sounded the alarm yet again at the 69th WHA, calling NCDs one of 3 global slow-motion disasters.
The HCC applauds the bold leadership of Minister Molwyn Joseph and calls on the all political leaders in the Caribbean to be equally as bold and unapologetic in responding to this epidemic of chronic diseases which threaten to cripple our fragile countries… for as Minister Joseph expressed it… ‘Leadership is about helping people to fill the gaps in their lives.‘