World leaders join new drive to beat non-communicable diseases

 WHO is announcing today a new high-level commission, comprised of heads of state and ministers, leaders in health and development and entrepreneurs. The group will propose bold and innovative solutions to accelerate prevention and control of the leading killers on the planet – noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like heart and lung disease, cancers, and diabetes.

The WHO Independent Global High-level Commission on NCDs is co-chaired by President Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay; President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka; President Sauli Niinistö of Finland; Veronika Skvortsova, Minister of Healthcare of the Russian Federation; and Sania Nishtar, former Federal Minister of Pakistan.

Seven in 10 deaths globally every year are from NCDs, the main contributors to which are tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity. More than 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 70 years die from NCDs annually. Low- and lower-middle income countries are increasingly affected, with half of premature deaths from NCDs occurring in those countries. Many lives can be saved from NCDs through early diagnosis and improved access to quality and affordable treatment, as well as a whole-of-government approach to reduce the main risk factors.

Read more at: World Health Organisation

UN Steps up Action to Make Urban Spaces More Climate-Resilient

UNFCCC photo for resilient cities article

UN Climate Change News, 15 February 2018 –  The 9th World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur concluded this week with a call to use the new urban agenda as an accelerator to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and support climate action.

According to the UN, the world’s urban population is expected to grow by 2.5 billion by 2050, with over 90 per cent of this growth to take place in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

This presents an unprecedented opportunity to re-define urban development, including inventing in livable, low-carbon and resilient cities.

Experts at the meeting recognized the fact that climate change will exacerbate the vulnerability of human settlements to natural and man-made hazards globally. This will especially be the case in developing countries, coastal and delta regions, and Small Island Developing States.

Read more at: United Nations Framework on Convention on Climate Change

CDB, UNICEF partner to improve quality of early childhood education in the Caribbean

Students of the Beacon Light of the Nazarene School, Antigua and Barbuda hand over newly launched Caribbean Early Childhood Development Good Practice Guide to (from left to right) Ms. Monica La Bennett, Vice-President (Operations), Caribbean Development Bank; Hon. Michael Browne, Minister Education, Antigua and Barbuda; Dr. Aloys Kamuragiye, UNICEF Representative, Office for the Eastern Caribbean. (Photo via CDB)

February 15, 2018, ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda– International and Regional academicians, researchers and practitioners have convened in Antigua and Barbuda to discuss opportunities and plans for improving the quality of and access to early childhood education for Caribbean children ages zero to five. The three-day Early Childhood Development Regional Research Conference, themed ‘Early Moments Matter – Nurturing Care in the Early Years’, takes place February 13 to 15.

Despite a strong correlation between investment in early childhood development (ECD) and high levels of social and economic development, research suggests that the Caribbean still invests too little, or not at all, in early education. According to data collected by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), 25 percent of the Region’s children, mainly those from poor and vulnerable families, do not have access during critical developmental years. CDB and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have therefore partnered to produce the Caribbean Early Childhood Development Good Practice Guide, which launched officially on Tuesday during the opening ceremony of the Conference.

“CDB has taken a policy decision that early childhood education will be a priority for 21st century education. To this end, the Bank will deliberately work with our Borrowing Member Countries to reconfigure available capacity at the primary level to accommodate additional ECD places, establish standalone nursery schools and pilot model ECD centres to accommodate new classes in parallel with the training of early childhood teachers,” Monica La Bennett, Vice-President (Operations), CDB told attendees. (more…)

Lower House in Antigua passes marijuana bill

marijuana

A bill to decriminalise up to 15 grammes of cannabis for personal use was passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) bill had its first reading in the House in December, but was subsequently sent to a select committee to allow for more public consultations.

That engagement was held on January 23 with recommendations calling for the proposed decriminalised amount to be raised from 10 grammes to as much as two ounces as it is in Jamaica.

Piloting the bill through its Second and Third readings. Prime Minister Gaston Browne stated that they had commissioned a poll before the decriminalisation move and that research indicated that 70 percent of the population was in favour of the move.

Read more at: Antigua Observer