Charlestown, Nevis (July 17, 2007)
Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas believes that the challenge to effectively address chronic non-communicable and communicable diseases, hinged on the capability of health systems and institutions to deliver sustainable required care and services, in line with accepted standards in the health profession.
Dr. Douglas who is also the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) lead spokesperson on Health (including HIV/AIDS) and Human Resource Development, made the comment on Monday July 16, 2007, at the start of the week long Inaugural Eastern Caribbean Conference on Health at the Four Seasons Resort on Nevis. The Conference’s theme is “Cooperating to Build Healthier Communities”.
He said a special CARICOM Summit for Caribbean Heads of Government (CHG) was planned for Trinidad and Tobago in September. The Summit would allow the Caribbean’s political leadership to formulate a regional strategic plan to be used in the fight against non communicable diseases.“Human resources must be at optimal levels and this is certainly a prime challenge with some Caribbean nations experiencing the loss of health care professionals to the developed countries, a matter that CHG raised and discussed in our last Conference on the Caribbean with President Bush and members of his cabinet and with members of his congress.
“We must not think for a moment that each Caribbean nation can effectively tackle the variety of health challenges. Such an approach simply would not work. Through the auspices of the Caribbean Community therefore, methodologies have been put in place to effectively address health issues of the region. For instance, the Caribbean Cooperation in Health (CCH) provides a set of mechanisms by which the collective engagement of resources, systems and methodologies can be applied to various Caribbean health issues,” he said.
Dr. Douglas noted too, that it was critical that the Caribbean clearly articulated its health assistance needs in a manner that was consistent and based upon scientific approaches to the region’s health challenges.
He referred to the region’s successful working relations with various entities included the Caribbean Research Centre (CAREC), the Pan American health Organisation (PAHO) the World bank and UNAIDS as well as bilateral agreements with various countries, relations he said must be nurtured and the Caribbean moved forward and recognized the competitive challenges of global health needs and the limited resources available.
According to the Prime Minister, in an era characterised by increased dependence on tourism, rising stress on health care facilities, social security systems and law enforcement agencies, the issue of health would occupy an increased level of importance on the Regional agenda.
“Health issues will be at the core of all macro-economic policies all geared towards sustainable economies and securing growth,” he said.
Meantime, on the matter of HIV/AIDS, Mr. Douglas said, with the assistance of the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS, most CARICOM countries would soon have the legislative framework to convert policies on HIV/AIDS into practice.
He said secretariats and units dedicated to address the legal and human rights issues of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS would soon be established.