HealthNewsTurks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos takes strategic measures to reduce NCDs’ impact

The Hon. Dr. Rufus W. Ewing Premier  of the Turks and Caicos Islands, has committed to championing the fight against NCDs in his homeland and Regionally at the level of Heads of Government in CARICOM.

Dr Ewing, who is also his country’s Minister of Health, Agriculture and Human Services, made the commitment  during a press conference held at the conclusion Tuesday of the Forum of Key stakeholders on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) that was held in Barbados, a press release from his office said.

This was in response to the announcement made by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) during the two day forum, that despite the Region’s efforts to reduce the risk and impact of NCDs in the Caribbean, current trends show that the goal of 25 per cent reduction in deaths associated with NCDs is still beyond reach for 2025.

The two-day NCD Forum which was attended by Caribbean Ministers of Health, including Premier Ewing as the highest ranking political leader, informed those gathered that NCDs continue to be a major development issue for the Region, with three out of every four deaths being due to NCDs and that 73 per cent of those deaths occur in the productive age group of 30 to 69, regionally.

Premier Ewing, in his contribution during the panel discussion at the Forum, emphasised the importance of political, technical and private sector leadership in adequately addressing NCDs.

During the discussions at the Ministerial Forum, Premier Ewing reaffirmed his Government’s commitments to strengthening primary health care in the Turks and Caicos Islands, thereby addressing NCDs and ultimately meeting the global target.

The Premier, in laying out the road map for minimising the impact of NCDs, identified his Government’s key initiatives as including: the tabling of the Tobacco Control Bill in Cabinet and the House of Assembly towards the reduction in tobacco consumption and the promotion of smoke-free zones; the establishment of a Chronic Disease Commission for the incorporation and collaboration with the health public sector and non-government organizations (NGOs) as partners in the fight against NCDs; the implementation of the Turks and Caicos Islands National Action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs, as coming out of the National Health Strategic Plan; the implementation of the Health in All policy approach to the development of national policies with the recognition of health as also being a development issue; and, the strengthening of the national Healthy Lifestyles initiatives intended to bring about changes in attitude and cultural practices in the approach to healthy living with a focus on prevention and staying healthy.

The NCDs Agenda, which addresses the prevention and control of NCDs, was brought to the world stage back in 2011, when a High Level Meeting, attended and championed by the Region of the Americas, and particularly the Caribbean Sub-Region, led to a Political Declaration for countries to implement measures designed to tackle this global epidemic. This Declaration was most recently reaffirmed and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

The forum, which also saw the participation of Health officials from all across the Caribbean Region, was organised by the PAHO and WHO and was held on  8-9 June in Bridgetown, Barbados. Among the forum’s key objectives was a discussion on strategies to make recommendations that will ensure that the goal of reducing the impact of NCDs remain high on the political agenda in the Caribbean, as well as the development of initiatives that will ensure universal health care coverage and universal access to health care within countries of the Region.

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