Prime Minister of Bahamas, Hubert Ingraham, spoke of the “epidemic” of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in his country, which put pressure on the country’s healthcare system.
He emphasized the role of the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in reducing the impact of these diseases. He called for an “increasing regional budget” to tackle these diseases and for better coordination on health. He also called for sharing of best industrial and business practices related to these diseases.
The Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, said non-communicable diseases are an issue of great concern for Barbados and for all the Caribbean countries, as the Caribbean is an area most affected by these diseases.
He talked about all the measures taken by his government to confront these diseases and reduce their impact, and highlighted the government’s commitment to working with the private sector and civil society as well as to instruments as the Framework Convention against smoking.
The Prime Minister said that although the political declaration adopted by the General Assembly did not fully reflect the initial expectations of the country, it provided a good platform for the General Assembly to consider the impact of these diseases. He said he had “hoped that countries like Barbados… could reach international cooperation to tackle these diseases” as a result of this high-level meeting.
The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, congratulated the United Nations and the World Health Organization on holding this meeting. She said that non-communicable diseases are a major cause of death in her country among people younger than 70 years old.
“Brazildefends access to medicines as an essential part of health,” said the President, who called for flexibility on issues related to the trade agenda and copyright to “guarantee access to health.”
“In Brazil we are redoubling our efforts to combat the risk factors to reduce non-communicable diseases,” said the President. She referred to programs in Brazil related to alcohol abuse, physical activity, improvement of diet, as well as those aimed at early detection of these diseases.
The President called the UN to take measures to combat these diseases, particularly because their incidence seen “disproportionately among the poorest demonstrates the need for a transverse response. It is therefore essential to ensure proper coordination between health policy and other sectors.”
The President invited those present at the meeting to attend the Conference on Social Determinants of Health in October, organized jointly with the World Health Organization.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
The Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, concurred on what was said by the other Caribbean countries. He said that “the costs associated with treating non-communicable diseases are overwhelming and are a serious threat” to the economy. He requested WHO/PAHO to work with the Caribbean countries to develop strategies to combat these diseases.
“I am encouraged that there is international consensus reached at this meeting, but it is not enough. What today should give impetus to a detailed plan that recognizes the flexibility of the WTO’s TRIPs to be applied to addressing this epidemic,” he said. He added that he hoped that there would also be assistance for development and cooperation on the disclosure of the problems represented by these diseases.
Upon the adoption of the policy statement, the President of Suriname, Desi Bouterse, was the first to address the General Assembly on behalf of CARICOM and the Caribbean Region, which initially prompted this meeting. Specifically, he recognized the work of WHO and PAHO on making it happen.
“The CARICOM is committed to ensuring that this statement not be diminished into a minor rhetorical achievement, but transformed into a platform for categorical measures are taken by the States and other stakeholders. This spirit of compromise already being demonstrated from our actions,” he said.
Trinidad and Tobago
The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, highlighted the different experiences that her country carried out to tackle these diseases as well as political steps they took to best attend this UN meeting.
The President said that today we should address this issue from other perspectives and called to “redefine the problem, change the dialogue, and focus on social determinants in order to win the battle against no communicable diseases.”
She suggested that the Secretary General of the United Nations appoint a special envoy to address all the issues related to non-communicable diseases.