Soundbites from the CARICOM Heads of Government closing press conference which took place 6th July 2017.
At the Closing Press Conference of the 38th CARICOM Heads of Government Meeting, the way forward with NCDs was discussed. Conference Chair, Hon. PM Mitchell underscored the gravity of the situation and the commitment of Heads to address NCDs through legislation firstly – and public education. Hon. PM Holness of Jamaica repeated the commitment to action. While acknowledging the responsibility of the state however, Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador LaRocque emphasised individual responsibility.
The reality is that the states – not individuals – have created unhealthy and obesogenic environments and calling on individuals to now take ‘responsibility’ for their health within these very same environments, may not yield the anticipated changes in behaviours and declines in NCD prevalence.
What is needed is an enabling environment via policies and legislation and an informed public taking personal responsibility.
It is 10 years my friends since the historic Port of Spain declaration, uniting to stop the epidemic of chronic noncommunicable diseases, which was issued following the seminal CARICOM heads of government summit in 2007.
We are aware that we have fallen behind in the battle of against these deadly diseases and also in fulfilling the goals of the declaration. One of the most alarming signs is the high incidence of childhood obesity – a major risk factor for NCDs. And this is a troubling statistic in our region – probably throughout every country in the Caribbean region at this time.
We have issued a statement reiterating our determination to curb the ravages of these diseases through legislation and intensified public education activities. We simply cannot afford to continue the lifestyle and food consumption patterns that are literally killing us.
Prime Minister of Grenada Prime Minister of Grenada Dr. Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell
Chair of the Thirty-Eighth Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government
We all have a responsibility, yes we can put our rules and regulations, we can put our tobacco labelling, we can impose taxes on sweets and salts and the like but every one of us has a responsibility for our lives as well, we do, we are the ones who feed ourselves, we are the ones who consume saturated fats, and we are the ones who are contributing to our own ill health.
Secretary General of the Caribbean Community, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque
Some very good recommendations were made and all the Heads agree that they would put there best efforts to implement them, particularly as it relates to smoking and tobacco use and the consumption of sugar and salt and exercise and leading a generally healthy lifestyle. We encourage all countries and all people to take this very seriously.
The Most Hon. Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica
Watch the press conference
See the open letter from HCC to CARICOM Heads of Government here.