The problem of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) cannot be solved solely by the construction of bigger and better equipped hospitals.

This was the observation of Minister of Health, John Boyce, while delivering remarks recently at the opening of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition???s (HCC) Strengthening NCD Commissions Project, at the Courtyard by Marriot Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church.

???There is a need for a more strategic approach which will address the NCD problem at its source: that is, to address the social determinants that lead to the health status of a population,??? he stated.

Mr. Boyce listed some of the other factors which needed to be addressed, including the quality of food; its price and availability; the work environment; and the availability of safe outdoor spaces to enable participation in physical activity.

He stressed: ???Reducing the burden of NCDs requires action beyond the health sector, in matters such as trade and agricultural policies, education, finance, foreign affairs, manufacturing and town planning??? There is therefore a compelling argument for the involvement of these sectors in the NCD response.???

The Health Minister added that with the inauguration of the NCD Commission in 2007, the healthcare sector was doing its part in order to combat NCDs. He acknowledged: ???Government must understand the role of the Commission and be prepared to provide the necessary technical and financial support to facilitate its mandate, and the leadership and composition of the Commission must be carefully selected.???

The HCC was established in 2007 as a regional NCD alliance aimed at providing a multi-sectoral civil society response at the regional level. National NCD Commissions have subsequently been established in some Caribbean countries with varying levels of effectiveness. The HCC has played a strong role in advancing the NCD cause nationally and regionally.

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