As the Pan American Health Organization’s Regional Country Managers’ meeting comes to a close, Health and the Environment Minister, Molwyn Joseph, doubled down on his commitment to fighting Non – Communicable Diseases (NCDs) at home and across the region.
Speaking at PAHO’s Cocktail Reception at the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute last night (Thursday evening), Minister Joseph declared that it is high time for regional governments and other organizations to declare war on Non-Communicable Diseases.
He further stated that the battle against NCDs is tantamount to nuclear warfare.
“I am going to be leaning on you and PAHO to help me take on this war. This is a war and it’s no exaggeration and this must be fought with nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons. We cannot continue as we are and everywhere I go I will be making this statement, we have to ignite a fire in the Caribbean, the leaders must be told that is a crisis that we are facing, our young people must be told the truth and we must challenge the culture that glorifies the consumption of the things that are killing us”, Minister Joseph said.
Joseph confirmed that he will be blunt and forceful in attacking the challenges in Antigua and Barbuda, especially since the island has one of the highest percentages of deaths related to Non – Communicable Diseases.
“I am resolved, though, that we have to be blunt, we have to be aggressive, because we cannot continue to lose in Antigua and Barbuda, fifty-two percent of the deaths that represent premature deaths in Antigua and Barbuda. As a matter of fact, it’s fifty-eight percent; fifty-eight percent of the deaths in my country as I stand here are premature deaths. Eighty-five percent of all deaths in this country are the direct results of Non – Communicable Diseases, higher than the Caribbean average and perhaps one of the highest in the region,” he noted.
Another highlight of the night was a speech delivered by Dr Godfrey Xuereb, the PAHO and WHO Representative for Antigua-Barbuda, Barbados and the other Eastern Caribbean Countries.
Dr Xuereb, showered praises on Antigua and Barbuda, noting that the twin island state, is a model for the rest of the region.
“I think Antigua and Barbuda is an excellent case example of an all of Government and all of society approach. We have included the faith-based organizations and the community groups in our Zika work, we have included and worked with FAO in the Zero hunger project, we have collaborated with IAEA in the Oncology Centre, so Minister Joseph and his team have really embraced the multi-sectorial action that we so strive to put in all of our functions,” Dr. Xuereb remarked.
Earlier in the week, over thirty individuals converged on the Verandah Resort for a number of sessions in a bid to foster greater partnerships between Pan American Health Organization Member States and put in place strategies and plans for the next few months.
The exercise brought together PAHO’s Regional Country Managers from across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and focused primarily on the impact of Non – Communicable Disease on the Caribbean and the Pan American Region.