The Healthy Caribbean Coalition’s (HCC’s) Civil Society Action Plan 2017-2021: Preventing Childhood Obesity in the Caribbean was developed to guide the response of Caribbean civil society to global, regional, and national recognition of the increasingly heavy burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and upward trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children.
One in every three children in the Caribbean is overweight or obese and this figure is growing. Childhood obesity is the canary in the coal mine – forewarning a health crisis affecting entire generations and frustrating the development of our already vulnerable states. This is a social justice issue which requires decisive structural change which protects the basic right to health owed to our children. Civil society has a pivotal role to play in calling for a supportive policy and legislative environment.
The goal of the plan is to halt, by 2025, increases in childhood obesity in the Caribbean and the PURPOSE is to contribute to the development and implementation of relevant policies, legislation, and regulations by countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Through this plan, the HCC and our national heath- and non-health civil society member organisations, commit to working collaboratively with governments, and regional and international partners to play our role in being engines for change in the Caribbean, driving all efforts towards our collective goal of halting the rise of obesity among children.
Sir George Alleyne
HCC Patron, PAHO Director Emeritus
“The increasing prevalence of childhood obesity in our places and in our time is an affront to us all. Yes it is a public health issue, but it is especially pernicious because it represents a flagrant negation of the rights of the powerless and the voiceless – rights to which the world has subscribed. It is past time for individuals and agencies to be outraged at the situation and I trust that this initiative by the HCC will help to stoke and stimulate some of that needed outrage as a primer for action. I strongly recommend the HCC Civil Society Action Plan for preventing childhood obesity in the Caribbean as a superb source of information and a clear guide to action for addressing the epidemic.”
Childhood obesity predisposes to the development of NCDs early in life and is a marker for adult obesity, which itself predisposes to NCD development. The rates of childhood overweight and obesity in the Caribbean are staggering and among the highest in the world. Left unchecked, they threaten to undermine the health of entire generations and reverse development gains across the region.
Civil society, collaborating with government and the private sector, has a critical role to play in taking action to address this condition, and the HCC, as the sole Caribbean regional civil society organisation (CSO) working in NCD prevention and control, recognised the urgent need to develop a framework to support and coordinate civil society’s actions in this arena.
The Action Plan will guide the HCC secretariat and members in performing functions related to advocacy; health education and promotion; community engagement and mobilisation; holding governments, the private sector, and civil society itself accountable for their commitments; contributing to policy and programme development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation (M&E); networking, promoting partnerships, and contributing to multisectoral action; and resource mobilisation, in order to contribute to childhood obesity prevention.
This plan was developed with the support of 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.
Our Implementation Partners for the plan:
- Regional Civil Society Organisations
- Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO)
- Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)
- University of the West Indies Open Campus
- Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)
- National Governments
- Vital Strategies/ Global Health Advocacy Incubator
Read/Download the Action Plan here.
Dr. Alafia Samuels
Director, George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre, UWI
“Childhood obesity is not just a problem in childhood, it tracks into adulthood and puts children at higher risk for a wide variety of physical and mental health issues. Unhealthy eating is the biggest challenge we face as a society, and the academics and partners need to do more in promoting delicious, healthy alternatives. The HCC Civil Society Action Plan for Prevention Childhood Obesity in the Caribbean is an important blueprint for action and we as academia are committed to partnering with the HCC to provide the evidence needed to inform the development and implementation of policies which contribute to healthier environments for our children and young people.”