Urgent action required to curb chronic NCDs – PM Harris

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris
Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris

Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 11, 2017 (SKNIS):  Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) continue to take a toll on CARICOM Member States, and urgent action is required to curb the threat of such diseases, said Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, during National Assembly on Tuesday, July 11.

Prime Minister Harris was updating the general public and the listening audience on the 38th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, held in Grenada from July 4-6, where he was given the opportunity to present a study on the economic ramifications of NCDs as it relates to Trinidad and Tobago. A similar study was also done in Barbados and Jamaica.

“The study estimated that five per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is being lost by the impact of preventable diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Half of that five per cent is direct medical care cost and the other half is in the loss of productivity,” said Prime Minister Harris, adding that if one was to examine the growth pattern of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean region over the last 10 plus years, they would not find that the country would have grown by five percent.

“Therefore, when in fact five per cent of the economy is being impacted negatively with respect to NCDs, this is a major cause for concern. The costs here are significant and they are as unsustainable for any country. Importantly, these diseases are preventable impediments to growth.”

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Free trade taking toll on health of Caribbean school children

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Senior Medical Officer of Grenada’s Ministry of Health, Dr Francis Martin (left) and St. Lucian parliamentarian, Moses Jn, Baptiste. (Photo via Demerara Waves)
Senior Medical Officer of Grenada’s Ministry of Health, Dr Francis Martin (left) and Saint Lucian parliamentarian, Moses Jn, Baptiste. (Photo via Demerara Waves)

GEORGE TOWN Cayman Islands, Demerara Waves – Caribbean health and education experts have lamented the impact of free trade on the consumption of certain foods and beverages that are badly affecting the health of the region’s children.

Senior Medical Officer of Grenada’s Ministry of Health, Dr. Francis Martin said the reality is that many Caribbean schools are cash-strapped and so they turn to sponsors to support sporting competitions. Those sponsors, he said, then provide unhealthy sugar-based drinks to players.

“It’s an issue of finance because countries, because of all these trade deals that are being signed, these countries cannot say, they cannot ban certain things and the truth is those persons already know the dangerous health benefits to these foods but precedent is set all around,” he told a panel discussion on Governance and Public Policy for Food and Nutrition Security Sustainable School Feeding Programmes.

The discussion was one of several such for a that is part of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture being held in the Cayman Islands from October 24 to 29, 2016. Sponsored by the Netherlands-based Centre for Technical Cooperation and Rural Agriculture (CTA), the event among other things aims to promote the sustainable production and consumption of healthy foods by the Caribbean for the Caribbean. These include roots and tubers and fruits and vegetables that experts say help to reduce the development of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart ailments that in turn take a heavy toll on countries’ national budgets.

Martin noted that people are more likely to demonstrate if there is a shortage of pharmaceutical supplies are unfulfilled but fail to do so against the large quantities of imported fast foods.

“We don’t so we ourselves are the hypocrites. We got to stand up and say ‘no’,” he said.

Read More: Demerara Waves