Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, presenting Professor Trevor Hassell with the instruments appointing him as Special Envoy for Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases, during a media briefing on Friday.
(J. Riley-Thornhill)

Professor Trevor Hassell has been appointed by Cabinet to the position of Special Envoy for Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) in Barbados.

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, announced this today as he addressed a media briefing at his Ministry’s headquarters at the Frank Walcott Building, Culloden Road.

"In this role, Professor Hassell will champion the cause of CNCDs and challenge key decision makers and opinion leaders to get involved in the response," Mr. Inniss said.??

He added: "Professor Hassell will contribute to Government’s work to foster a broad inter-sectoral approach to address the CNCDs through the establishment of partnerships with national, regional and international agencies in collaboration with the National Commission for CNCDs; and will advise the Government, through the Minister of Health, on an effective response to the outcomes of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on CNCDs."

The special envoy, who is currently Chairman of the National Commission for CNCDs and the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, will work closely with health officials, including the Chief Medical Officer, the Senior Medical Officer of Health (responsible for CNCDs) and the Health Promotion Unit.??

According to Minister Inniss, the assignment comes at a time when Government is seeking to ensure Barbados "remains on track to achieve the goals that we have set ourselves and to create the best possible conditions for Barbadians to live healthy lives: It is important to ensure that CNCDs are kept as a high national and political priority."

The appointment was also explained in the context of the upcoming United Nations (UN) High-Level Meeting slated for September, at the UN headquarters in New York.

Mr. Inniss pointed out that implementing the outcomes of that summit "will require leadership at the highest levels of government and within civil society". He said: "We want to have in place an effective mechanism for advocacy to bring on board in the fight against these diseases as many partners from the other public sectors, the private sector and from among civil society organisations."

In accepting his instruments, Prof. Hassell thanked Government for allowing him the opportunity to play "an expanded role at the national level in efforts aimed at slowing the epidemic of chronic diseases." He stated: "Unless an increasingly concerted effort is made to better prevent and treat these diseases, all the significant developmental gains that we as a country have made since Independence are likely to be lost."

The new envoy also echoed the sentiments of the Health Minister, noting that CNCDs needed "to be tackled in a systematic way by the whole society and the whole of Government". ??

He said: "This appointment is part of that systematic approach which, four years ago, saw the establishment of the Chronic Disease Commission, which, since it was set up with the primary purpose of advising the Minister of Health, has quietly taken [the] lead in bringing about change with regard to chronic diseases in areas such as enactment of No Tobacco Legislation; production of the National Strategic Plan for Chronic Diseases, 2009-2012; inclusion of a major section on chronic diseases in Social Partners’ protocol VI; and the launch of the National Dietary Improvement and Population Salt Reduction Programme in Barbados."


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