Transforming the Way We Eat: The Relationship Between Agriculture, Food and Nutrition & NCDs

by HCC

The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) in partnership with the ROTARY District 7030 and the Caribbean Association of Nutritionists and Dieticians (CANDi) presented a joint special webinar within the COVID-19 and NCDs in the Caribbean series, Transforming the Way We Eat’: The Relationship between Agriculture, Food and Nutrition and NCDs. The sixth webinar in the series took place on Thursday November 19th, 2020 and it focused on the value of investing strategically in agricultural practices and eating what we grow to address food insecurity. Key experts expanded on how individual and community-level strategies can be used to practically and sustainably improve health outcomes by improving access to healthy local foods as part of a build-back-better response to the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

A recording of the webinar is available here.

The objective of the sixth webinar, ‘Transforming the Way We Eat’: The Relationship between Agriculture, Food and Nutrition and NCDs was to explore agriculture’s practical role in addressing food security, improving nutrition and health-related outcomes, especially for those living with chronic non-communicable diseases.

BACKGROUND

On March 27th 2020, the HCC published an Open Letter to CARICOM Heads calling for ‘urgent action to protect those living with NCDs from COVID-19’. On March 31st , 2020, the HCC released the HCC COVID-19 Advocacy and Communication Strategy to guide HCC advocacy efforts and communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. The strategy has five primary objectives: increase knowledge about COVID-19 and NCDs; promote access to, and consumption of, healthy foods; promote access to essential medicines and treatments for people living with NCDs (PLWNCDs; promote good mental and physical health; and engage young people as key players in the COVID-19 response. The strategy aims to contribute to universal health and universal health coverage (UH/UHC) and reduction of inequities, in support of achieving the sustainable development goals, specifically the prevention, treatment and promotion of mental health and wellbeing (target 3.4).

The webinar series fulfils two of the four strategies identified to deliver on the objectives of the HCC COVID-19 Communication Strategy: information dissemination and strengthening of civil society organisation (CSO) communication networks for information and experience sharing. The webinars will target a number of stakeholder groups, foremost of which are HCC CSO member organisations and PLWNCDs. Secondary target groups include regional policymakers and technical personnel across various ministries (including health, education, finance, trade etc.), health care providers, members of academia, national, regional and international partners, the general public including students and the private sector.

The webinar series aims to build advocacy capacity for the promotion of initiatives and policies that support the long-term health of all, particularly vulnerable persons, PLWNCDs, children and young people. The webinars will leverage the expertise of diverse stakeholders and partners including civil society actors, technical officers, academics, health care practitioners, and youth to bring awareness to the varied and complex dimensions of COVID-19 and NCDs in the Caribbean in order to guide the multisectoral approach needed to pave the way forward. They will showcase the experiences and lessons learned thus far and highlight good practices in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of these efforts. Current initiatives, solutions and policy recommendations will be discussed to ensure that we respond effectively to the pandemic and “build back better” by strengthening our whole-of-society response in shaping the COVID-19 health legacy.

ROTARY District 7030 and the Healthy Caribbean Coalition have agreed to join forces in the fight against Childhood Obesity.

Rotary International is a global network of 1.2 million members across the globe who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change in our communities, and in ourselves. In pursuit of creating a service-based organization executing bigger and better projects and activities to assist communities and individuals, Rotary recognizes that there are a variety of priority issues which face different regions, diverse communities and unique people. It is under this philosophy that Rotary District 7030 – which is made up of over 125 clubs and over 3000 members covering the Southern Caribbean from St. Kitts to French Guiana to Aruba – firmly commits to facilitating and implementing improvements within local communities by using its network, resources and influence to take action, provide assistance and precipitate tangible, significant, sustainable and positive change. One such regional and community issue which Rotary District 7030 shall be tackling is the significant increase in the incidence of Childhood Obesity, which has grown at an alarming rate in the Caribbean and now poses a serious and disturbing risk to the health of an entire generation.

Using its diverse membership network of 3000+ professionals across the Caribbean region, and in partnership with the Health Caribbean Coalition, Rotary District 7030 is committed to leverage available resources to cover and coordinate plural efforts among multiple clubs, ensuring that each of its member countries and territories has at least one active and supported Childhood Obesity Prevention and Healthy Cog project in their strategic plans.

This webinar also builds on the joint statement, “Strengthening Food and Nutrition Security in the Caribbean: a Legacy Response to the COVID-19 pandemic”, issued by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition and the OECS Commission on the April 15th 2020. It called for the prioritization of food and nutrition security at national and regional levels, guided by policy development and framed by supportive environments. Several specific recommendations were made in the statement including the inclusion by governments of consistent and coherent food and nutrition security measures in their national COVID-19 response plans; an expansion and improvement of emergency food assistance and social protection programmes, and support for home or backyard gardening in the context of the broader regional and national food security strategy to improve access to healthy, nutritious foods and to strengthen regional food security.

WEBINAR 6: TRANSFORMING THE WAY WE EAT: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND NUTRITION & NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES (NCDs)

The objective of the sixth webinar, ‘Transforming the Way We Eat’: The Relationship between Agriculture, Food and Nutrition and NCDs was to explore agriculture’s practical role in addressing food security, improving nutrition and health-related outcomes, especially for those living with chronic non-communicable diseases.

COVID-19 has highlighted the NCD pandemic in our region where 4 out of 10 adults are living this group of diseases. Relatedly, 1 in every 3 children and at least 50% of all adults are overweight or obese and some countries report adult overweight and obesity rates as high as 70%. These diet-related illnesses are linked to the overconsumption of foods that are energy dense, nutrient poor, processed and ultra-processed high in fats, salt and sugars; many of these foods are often imported. In a region where many countries import more than 90% of what they consume, it is critical that efforts are made to address the issue of food insecurity.

The panellists discussed how innovative individual and community based agricultural practices, understanding the concept of eating what we grow, and increased investment in agricultural support and young ‘agripreneurs’, can help to build a region that feeds itself sustainably and contribute to improved health outcomes.

KEY THEMES

Through a guided discussion, panellists explored the following key themes:

Agriculture

  • The role of agriculture in securing a healthy food environment
  • The role of youth in strengthening the agriculture sector
  • Strategies that can be employed at the individual, institutional and country-wide level to strengthen and support the agriculture sector

Food

  • The impact of increased access to healthy foods and how this can improve health outcomes
  • Strategies to improve the consumption of local, fresh foods

Moderators:

Transforming the Way We Eat’: The Relationship between Agriculture, Food and Nutrition and NCDs

Ms. Marcellia Henry
Past Assistant Governor and District Membership Chair, District 7020, ROTARY

Transforming the Way We Eat’: The Relationship between Agriculture, Food and Nutrition and NCDs

Ms. Charity Dublin
Healthy Caribbean Youth Member, CANDi Member

 

Panellists

Transforming the Way We Eat’: The Relationship between Agriculture, Food and Nutrition and NCDs

Professor Fitzroy Henry
Professor of Public Health Nutrition, COHS, University of Technology, Jamaica

Transforming the Way We Eat’: The Relationship between Agriculture, Food and Nutrition and NCDs

Dr. Iris Monnereau
Regional Project Coordinator, Climate change adaptation of the Eastern Caribbean Fisheries Sector (CC4FISH), FAO 

Mrs. Rosaline Clarke

Mrs. Rosaline Clarke
Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary Club of Barbados South

Mr. Alpha Sennon

Mr. Alpha Sennon
Agripreneur and Founder of WHY FARM

Chef Dane Saddler

Chef Dane Saddler
Executive Chef, Caribbean Villa Chefs

See the promotional flyer here.


WEBINAR 1: CIVIL SOCIETY ROUNDTABLE:  COVID-19 AND NCDS IN THE CARIBBEAN

Civil Society Perspectives on COVID-19 and NCDs in the CaribbeanThe objective of the first webinar: Civil Society Perspectives on COVID-19 and NCDs in the Caribbean was to provide a platform for Caribbean CSO leadership to share and showcase their experiences, challenges, successes and lessons learned in responding to COVID-19 and planning for the future beyond COVID-19. Read more


WEBINAR 2: THE FUTURE TALKS: COVID-19 AND NCDS IN THE CARIBBEAN

THE FUTURE TALKS: COVID-19 AND NCDS IN THE CARIBBEANThe objective of the second webinar: THE FUTURE TALKS: COVID-19 AND NCDS IN THE CARIBBEAN was to highlight the experiences youth face during COVID, including those living with NCDs. The webinar also served as a platform to amplify the youth’s perspective on the monumental change needed moving forward to protect PLWNCDs and lessen the burden for future generations. Read more


WEBINAR 3: THE FUTURE TALKS: COVID-19 AND NCDS IN THE CARIBBEAN – THE LEGACY

The Future Talks”: COVID AND NCDs in the CARIBBEAN - THE LEGACYThe objective of the third webinar: “The Future Talks”: COVID AND NCDs in the CARIBBEAN – THE LEGACY was to gain insight from youth experts who will present their professional and personal perspectives on how the region’s health systems can “build back better” from the COVID experience. Read more


WEBINAR 4: WEIGHING THE IMPACT OF COVID-19: NUTRITION, OVERWEIGHT, OBESITY AND NCDS

WEIGHING THE IMPACT OF COVID-19: NUTRITION, OVERWEIGHT, OBESITY AND NCDSThe objective of the fourth webinar: “Weighing the Impact of COVID-19: Nutrition, Overweight, Obesity and NCDs” was to reflect on the nutrition environment over the course of the pandemic and the resulting direct and indirect impacts on health; and discuss individual and population level strategies to encourage improved nutrition and management of diet-related NCDs during and after the pandemic. Read more


WEBINAR 5: RE-OPENING SCHOOLS: SHARED PERSPECTIVES ON NAVIGATING MENTAL HEALTH IN THE “CLASSROOM” DURING COVID-19

Re-opening Schools: Shared perspectives on navigating mental health during COVID-19The objective of the fifth webinar, “Re-opening Schools: Shared perspectives on navigating mental health during COVID-19” was to explore the mental health concerns of key actors within schools as they reopened across the region and to discuss strategies to cultivate school ecosystems that support positive mental health and well-being. Read more

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