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Health Surveillance and Disease Prevention and Control / Chronic Diseases

Healthy Caribbean 2008: Chronic Disease Prevention Civil Society Conference

(Barbados, 1618 October 2008)
Healthy Caribbean

- Objectives
- Progress of the Meeting
- Recommendations

This meeting was co-sponsored by PAHO, the Inter American Health Foundation (IAHF), the Caribbean Development Bank (CariBank), and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados. A total of 14 countries attended, along with a wide range of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including 37 health NGOs, churches, labor unions, consumers' associations, and educational and research organizations.

civil society

Objective

  • Plan the response of civil society to the chronic noncommunicable disease (CNCD) epidemic in the Caribbean, in light of the Declaration of Port-of-Spain that resulted from the CARICOM Summit on CNCDs held in September of last year in Trinidad and Tobago. The plan for civil society is a deliverable that falls under a PAHO/IAHF letter of agreement. This meeting was complementary to the one on the Caribbean Private Sector Response to CNCDs held in Trinidad in June 2008.

Secondary Objectives

  • Present the InterAmerican Heart Foundation Science and Peace Lecture and Award, which was made to Sir George Alleyne (Director Emeritus of PAHO).
  • Present the 5th InterAmerican Journalism Contest Awards on the Tobacco Epidemic.

Progress of the Meeting

The conference was opened by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health of Barbados, as well as by the PAHO/WHO Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Countries. Dr. Branka Legetic of the PAHO Chronic Disease team made an opening presentation on CNCDs in the Caribbean: What we know, and IAHF presented Civil Society as an Agent of Change: What Works. Used to accomplish the objectives was a mixture of plenary and small working group sessions addressing advocacy, risk factor reduction (tobacco, diet and physical activity, alcohol consumption), NGO toolkits, scaling up treatment, partnership-building, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). NGOs described a wide range of education and service activities, but there was less activity in advocacy, M&E, or watchdog roles.

There was a high level of enthusiastic participation. In addition, all NGOs completed a profile for a database. There was also a high level of input into the Draft Civil Society Plan tabled at the conference. An agreement was made to establish a Caribbean Coalition against NCDs, and a conference resolution was approved. A small working group under the Chairmanship of Professor Hassell was established as an ad hoc coordinating committee. Plans were also made to set up a website and listserv.

Useful discussions were held with IAHF on present and future collaboration in its role as an NGO in conducting official relations with PAHO, as well as with Rae Barrett of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica on joint research to evaluate existing CNCD program funding mechanisms in the Caribbean.

Recommendations

  • PAHO/WHO and other stakeholders should support the mobilization of civil society in the Caribbean as a very positive step forward in the prevention and control of CNCDs.
  • A connection should be brought about among the three streams of CNCD work in the Caribbean subregion in 2009/2010:
  • Outcomes of the meeting should be promoted within the CARMEN network and throughout other channels.
  • There should be participation in the process to finalize a civil society plan to support the Port-of-Spain Declaration.
  • Follow-up should take place with the IAHF on the above plan as a PAHO/IAHF deliverable and on a joint workplan.
  • Jamaica should be included in the CNCD economic/fiscal research currently being planned in collaboration with PAHO's health services team.

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