Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Public health crisis has links to slavery

THE African-descended population in the Caribbean has the highest incidence in the world of chronic diseases, in the forms of hypertension and type two diabetes. This pandemic is the direct result of the nutritional experience, physical and emotional brutality and overall stress profile associated with slavery, genocide and apartheid.

This is the information contained in a document entitled the “Caribbean Reparatory Justice Programme: A Ten-Point Plan of Action”, which was outlined by Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, as he spoke at a press briefing convened earlier this week, to give an update on the work of the Commission.

Making reference to Point 5 of the Action Plan, Professor Beckles remarked that “there is at the moment an epidemic of chronic diseases that is sweeping through the Black population of the Caribbean”.

“Using the criterion of chronic diseases hypertension and type two diabetes, the Black population of the Caribbean is the unhealthiest population on this planet,” Beckles asserted.

“We do have the information suggesting that over 60% of all the Black people in the Caribbean over the age of 60 have either hypertension, diabetes or both, and this explosion in chronic diseases is as a result of the stress profile and the nutritional profile associated with slavery, genocide and colonisation,” he said.

“The Governments of the region cannot contain this epidemic. Only a highly organised programme of research, scientific intervention, can assist in turning this epidemic around. This is the result of the legacies of slavery,” he continued.

“It is true that slavery, colonisation and apartheid are over, but the African population now continues the jet stream of this history,” Beckles suggested. (RSM)

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