The urgent action to “stem the tide” of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCDs) signals that the region has reached a critical juncture in the health sector. 

Minister of Health, National Insurance and Social Security, Dr. David Estwick, made this assertion recently as he addressed the opening ceremony of the Healthy Caribbean 2008 Conference – A Wellness Revolution Event at Accra Beach Hotel.

Noting that it was necessary to consider a number of factors confronting people every day, Dr. Estwick said: “Some of these may include the types and availability of food, personal preference for foods, physical inactivity and the reason why people do or do not exercise, traditional beliefs about health and their levels of confidence about making changes in their lifestyles and doing so successfully.”

While adding that it required “culturally relevant and effective interventions” to encourage the transition to healthier lifestyles, he said success in this mission called for closer collaboration with civil society, the private sector, community groups and individual citizens.

The Minister acknowledged that the idea of a “wellness revolution” spreading across the region was an exciting one. He explained: “I am speaking of several small waves of change, which can occur when people in community organisations and civil society take charge in determining priorities and actions for the promotion of their health and wellbeing. These small waves of change can grow into large, effective movement for behavioural change across the region.” 

Meanwhile, Frank Sampson, of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), a key sponsor of the conference, in supporting the call for collaboration, said: “A principal lesson learnt at CDB in its 38 years of support of national development and regional integration is that the sustainability of any intervention requires the active involvement of the full range of social institutions within the community, whatever the sphere of activity.”

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