Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Provide enabling environment for healthy living

An enabling environment must be provided in order to get the citizens of the Caribbean to eat healthy, exercise, reduce alcohol intake, eliminate tobacco and adopt other healthy lifestyle habits.

This is according to Professor Sir Trevor Hassell, President of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC).
“Individuals may opt to adopt healthy living, but there needs to be an enabling environment for them to do so through mechanisms that include, policies and legislation; co-operation of, and initiatives led by, the private sector; and advocacy, education and service delivery programmes led by civil society.”

Quoting from the Port-of-Spain (POS) Declaration of 2007, he explained that in order to build this enabling environment, all stakeholders in society must play their part.

“This approach, that is, a multi-sector, all of society approach to NCDs, was first strongly called for at the Heads of Government of CARICOM Summit in Port of Spain, 2007, when the Declaration arising from that Summit stated, ‘We are fully convinced that the burdens of NCDs can be reduced by comprehensive and integrated preventive and control strategies and through collaborative programmes, partnerships and policies supported by governments, private sectors, NGOs and our other social, regional and international partners.’”

Professor Sir Hassell said that this statement, considered daring at the time, revealed that tackling NCDs must be a priority for all involved.

“This is, and was at the time that it was included in the pre-amble to the POS Declaration, a clear and bold statement, that recognised the fundamental issue of the NCDs as a lifestyle matter and one that is the business of all. For it was recognised that a change or correction of the lifestyles – exposure to tobacco smoke, unhealthy eating, physical inactivity and abuse of alcohol that lead to NCDs – can only be achieved if there is involvement of all sectors of society.”

He said that this approach was then seconded by a United Nations (UN) Meeting of 2011.

“The call for a multi-sector approach to Healthy Living was re-stated at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on NCDs 2011, when multi-sectorially was mentioned on several occasions in the Declaration arising out of that meeting and specifically in article 36 of the Declaration where it was stated that we ‘recognise that effective non-communicable disease prevention and control require leadership and multi-sectoral approaches for health at the government level, including, as appropriate, health in all policies and whole-of-government approaches across such sectors as health, education, energy, agriculture, sports, transport, communication, urban planning, environment, labour, employment’.” (PJT)

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