PM Douglas calls for urgent and comprehensive response to deal with non-communicable diseases

Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis (file photo)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, SEPTEMBER 21ST 2011 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas was one of several speakers at has called for an international framework to control non-communicable diseases that must include broad factors and actors at every level.

“Our response must be urgent, it must be comprehensive, and it has to be fully coordinated at the national, regional and global levels,” Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas of St. Kitts and Nevis and Chairperson of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) said as he opened the third round table of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases.

The theme for the discussion was “Fostering international cooperation as well as coordination, to address non-communicable diseases”, and was co-chaired by Walter Gwenigale, Minister of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia.

Dr. Douglas said priority must be given to international coordination on monitoring the diseases, on measures to reduce risk factors and on strengthening health-care systems.

He said that non-communicable diseases were the new frontier in global health, as they had been previously hidden from the international agenda.

There was now a social and moral imperative to respond to them through coordinated, global action. Mr. Gwenigale added that the principle of equity should guide such action.

Prime Minister Douglas, who summarized the round-table discussion on “fostering international cooperation as well as coordination, to address non-communicable diseases,” which heard from 42 speakers, agreed.

During that round table, speakers had stressed the need to integrate prevention and control strategies into official development assistance (ODA) programmes and scale up research in order to address the rising tide of non-communicable diseases.

They had emphasized the importance of developing time-bound targets to hold the world to account, to monitor progress and to ensure continued attention and investment in prevention and treatment.

Moreover, they had pointed to the need to strengthen national surveillance, particularly in the light of the lack of critical national data required to guide policy development; engage in constructive dialogue to promote healthy consumption patterns; replace negative advertising with positive images on healthy lifestyles; develop international food standards and harmonize food regulations; as well as provide access to affordable medicines and technologies to combat non-communicable diseases.

In that light, many speakers proposed that the global fight against non-communicable diseases be modelled after action against HIV/AIDs, which they say had mobilized great political will in the past ten years.

Like HIV, non-communicable diseases represented an epidemic of alarming proportions, the representative of Mauritius said. Some speakers proposed a coordinating body, possibly under the World Health Organization (WHO), with some saying that WHO should be strengthened for that purpose. The representative of Poland said that an international network of organizations specializing in non-communicable diseases would be valuable.

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