Health Issues Discussed At CARICOM

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
March 10, 2008 (CUOPM)

Several issues of importance to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis were discussed at the just concluded 19th Inter-Sessional Heads of Government Meeting in The Bahamas.

The Heads of Government, among them, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas urged Member States and CARICOM Universities to work assiduously to achieve the integration of the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN) and the Caribbean Universities Project for Integrated Distance Education (CUPIDE). This would harmonize the Region’s approach to the delivery of continuous learning and the creation of increased access to training opportunities and enhanced skills for its citizens.

According to the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the regional leaders noted the progress being made by CKLN to provide access to tertiary education programmes that are aligned with the Caribbean Labour Market demands and which will facilitate secure connectivity between and among Regional Governments.

Heads of Government agreed that Member States would implement the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) system and the related Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQ) in order to harmonise quality assurance and the accreditation of vocational qualifications to support the free movement of skilled persons within the CSME.

Member States have been urged to participate fully in the Special Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on Children to be held in Georgetown, Guyana, 17-19, March 2008 and to be prepared to outline firm criteria for establishing a Region fit for Children.

Heads of Government recalled their historic Summit on Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) held in Port of Spain on 15th September 2007 and urged Member States to cooperate in the implementation of the actionable recommendations. They also urged that steps be taken to involve stakeholders at the national level to become engaged in the process toward achieving a wellness revolution.

The leaders endorsed the Plan of Action outlined by the CARICOM/Pan American Health Organisation Implementation Committee for the co-ordinating role of the National NCD Commissions, advocacy, tobacco control, healthy eating in schools and work places, active living and the preparations for the Caribbean Wellness Day to be celebrated on the second Saturday of September each year.

It was recommended that a media strategy for Information, Education and Communication be implemented to mobilise the Community to take action that would reduce the incidence and effects of NCDs.

On the matter of HIV/AIDS, the meeting urged Member States to play an active role in helping to sustain the important role being played by PANCAP in the fight against HIV and AIDS through the establishment of a coordinated Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework; harmonization of resource mobilization; and the implementation of the overall goal toward universal access to prevention, care and treatment by 2010.

According to the communiqué, Heads of Government expressed support for the new PANCAP initiatives aimed at the establishment of a Technical Support Facility in collaboration with UNAIDS to enhance implementation rates and in-country capacity to manage HIV and AIDS programmes and in so doing commended International Development Partners for their continued support for PANCAP programmes.

Heads of Government expressed pleasure at the decision of the United States Congress to allocate US$16 million from the President’s Emergency Fund for HIV/AIDS Relief for 14 Caribbean countries and the signing of an Agreement for 8 million Euros with the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany for HIV/AIDS prevention.

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