The Barbados-registered health advocacy company Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) is partnering with the Open Campus of the University of the West Indies in a three-year programme to fight non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the region.
The agreement, signed Tuesday, paves the way for the civil society alliance and the education institution to join resources on a number of programmes focusing on capacity building, organization development and technical assistance, HCC President Professor Sir Trevor Hassell said.
Emphasis will be placed on development and delivery of educational programmes focused on the “insertion” of NCDs into relevant academic programmes of the Open Campus; hosting of joint regional NCD meetings and conducting virtual NCD lecture series and webinars, he added.
“All sectors of the society need to contribute if what has been described as the tsunami of NDCs is to be slowed. This group of diseases is the leading cause of slowing, and in some instances, the cause of the reversal of socio-economic development in the Caribbean,” Sir Trevor stated at the signing at the Open Campus.
He said eight out of every ten deaths in the Caribbean are due to NCDs, and most regional countries expend more than 60 per cent of their health budgets on these diseases.
Earlier this month Minister of Health John Boyce placed the economic cost of NCDs to the economy at $145 million a year, rising to $200 million when losses due to lost productivity are added.
Meanwhile, Principal Dr Luz Longsworth of the Open Campus argued that the region’s development was being affected by the high rate of NCDs.
“This relationship seeks to ensure that the message that the reduction and the elimination of NCDs is crucial to our development is sent throughout the region and penetrates the consciousness, not only of medical practitioners and related health fields, but every man, woman and child in our communities across the region,” he said.
Longsworth said with the university’s Strategic Plan for 2017-2022 focusing on revitalizing Caribbean development, there was no better way to revitalize people than through ensuring healthy lifestyles that would enable a productive, happy and energized workforce.