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In a powerful display of unity and commitment, CARICOM Ministers of Health collectively endorsed the proposed “Caribbean Moves” (CM) framework and implementation plan. They also expressed their support for including the initiative under the current standard Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) agenda item for subsequent Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) Health meetings.

The decision to endorse the movement was made during the Thirty-Third Special Meeting of COHSOD (Health) held virtually on Thursday 28 March, following a comprehensive presentation on the initiative by Dr Joy St John, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

The approval and support of the developed CM framework and implementation plan by the regional governance structure is critical to the initiative’s success. This regional endorsement will support the brokerage of strategic partnerships for the financing and sustainability of the initiative.

CM is a regional movement aimed at significantly reducing the burden of NCDs in the Caribbean. Its overarching goal is to significantly enhance regional development by creating an environment that will enable better health outcomes for the people of the Caribbean Community.

By engaging with a wide cross-section of public and private sector organisations, CM promotes and supports preventive health behaviours aligned with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Best Buys” for NCD prevention and creates a supportive environment.

During the virtual gathering, COHSOD Chair, Hon. Dr Cassandra Williams, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Social Services, Dominica, explained that the completed CM initiative framework provides a wide-ranging approach to promote physical activity as a means of preventing and controlling NCDs, a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the Region.

The Chair underscored that the proposed governance structure also ensures effective coordination and collaboration among stakeholders, while the implementation plan will focus on individual, community, and policy-level strategies. “I would like to thank CARPHA for its continued thrust to advancing health, and the work on this activity is commendable,” added the Chair.

Ms Alison Drayton, Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, described the endorsement as a “momentous occasion”. She underscored that the CM framework and implementation plan represent the culmination of significant work to move the initiative forward. She urged Ministers of Health to pay close attention to the governance structure as it will call for the continued commitment of Member States at both a national and regional level.

Ms Alison Drayton, Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, CARICOM Secretariat

The Assistant Secretary-General further explained that successfully implementing the framework will require a whole-of-society, gender-responsive approach and development of a sustainable financing plan.

Ministers of Health welcomed the offer of guidance and support from Dr the Honourable Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health and Wellness of Jamaica, to implement the CM initiative across the Region. Jamaica launched the “Jamaica Moves” initiative in 2018, and CARICOM Ministers of Health agreed to adopt this initiative on a region-wide basis to increase the momentum of national programmes in promoting physical activity and healthy diets.

CARICOM leaders endorsed the CM initiative in 2018 to mitigate against NCDs, which account for 70% of deaths in the Region. CARPHA led the development of a framework and implementation plan for the initiative. Two regional consultations had been convened to review the proposed framework, gain stakeholder input, and develop an implementation plan collaboratively.

Before this, CARICOM Heads of Government committed to promoting policies and actions aimed at increasing physical activity in the entire population as vehicles for improving the population’s health in the 2007 Port of Spain Declaration on “Uniting to stop the epidemic of NCDs.”

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