Non-Governmental Organizations urged to join Healthy Caribbean Coalition

POSTED: 06/4/12 1:58 PM

St. Maarten – Collective Prevention Services (CPS) Head Dr. Virginia Asin-Oostburg, recently attended the Healthy Caribbean 2012 “Rallying for action on NCD” conference and workshop, where a gateway to the region is now offered to local non-governmental organizations where they can join this regional civil society movement. Approximately 250, 000, 000 people live with a Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) in the American region. In 2009 a total of 4.5 million people died from these NCDs such as Heart disease, Diabetes, Stroke and Cancer. Of these deaths 80 percent occur in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) and 37 percent are persons below age 70.
This NCD situation is not sustainable because if no interventions are undertaken, NCD will cost up to $30 trillion per year globally in 20 years and $500 billion annually in low and middle income countries which equals four percent Gross Domestic Product. These are some of the findings presented by Dr. James Hospedalis of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO-WHO), Washington office, during a Caribbean meeting of civil society organizations in Jamaica from May 28 and May 29. A study from Caribbean countries show that this epidemiology profile is also seen in the Caribbean and according to CPS Head St. Maarten will be no exception.
By now it has also become common knowledge that these diseases collectively called NCDs have common risk factors such as tobacco smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, poor nutritional habits and lack of physical activity. Because of the behavioral nature of the risk factors it has also become common knowledge that these diseases are “preventable”.
The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) is a civil society network established for the purpose of combating chronic disease (NCD) and its risk factors and conditions. This coalition is being introduced to St. Maarten by Asin-Oostburg, who has been a standing member of the Executive Committee since 2008. The mission of HCC is to harness the power of civil society, in collaboration with government, private enterprise, academia, and international partners, as appropriate, in the development and implementation of plans for the prevention and management of chronic diseases among Caribbean people.
HCC envisions a reduction in disability and death from chronic diseases among people of the Caribbean and has as specific objectives to contribute to and participate in all aspects of advocacy as a tool for influencing positive change around NCDs through mobilization of Caribbean people and the creation of a mass movement aimed at responding to the NCDs; development of effective methods of communication for and among members of the coalition and the people of the region and to contribute to NCD public education campaigns and programs. HCC also pledges full support for Caribbean Wellness Day which is held annually throughout the region, as mandated by heads of state and government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
The strategic approach for advocacy and support for NCD risk factor reduction is through: a. tobacco control and implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; b. increased physical activity; c. improved dietary intake including reduction of salt and sugar, elimination of trans fats, and responsible alcohol use; d. support of initiatives, plans and programs at country and organization level, and e. advocacy and support for enhanced detection and management of chronic diseases.
Membership of the Coalition is open to all voluntary associations and informal networks in the Caribbean and extra regionally where individuals and groups engage in activities of public consequence, and have similar objectives, goals and interests as the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, and include nongovernmental health organizations, professional health and other associations, faith based organizations, neighborhood organizations, cooperatives, charities, unions, social movements, and special interest groups. No fee is attached to being a member of the Coalition.
The HCC offers a platform for civil society organizations to partner in a common cause to fulfill the collective purpose “prevention and management of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and other preventable diseases”. A collective approach has many advantages such as combining resources so we can be more effective and efficient in our actions and activities and joint cooperation to be more successful in achieving our common goals and objectives.
To become a member of HCC or get more information about HCC visit the websitehttp://www.healthycaribbean.org/ or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

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