This year, Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD) will be observed on Saturday 8th September and it marks the 5th anniversary of the initiative. Inaugurated in 2008, Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD) is an annual event, observed on the second Saturday of September. The observance of Caribbean Wellness Day was one of the decisions taken when the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government, deeply concerned about the physical, economic and social burdens caused by lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, obesity and cancer, met in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 15 September 2007 to design a plan of action to stop the epidemic of chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
The Port of Spain Declaration "Uniting to stop the epidemic of chronic NCDs" sets out the commitments of the Heads of Government to address NCDs in Region. The tenants outline a selection of necessary measures to address the four main modifiable causative risk factors physical inactivity, inadequate diets, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol and the four leading NCDs cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease, come to be known as the NCD 4X4.
In addition the Declaration also called on Member States to observe the second Saturday of September as Caribbean Wellness Day (CWD) in commemoration of the landmark summit.
CWD provides an advocacy opportunity to increase the awareness of the NCD burden in the Caribbean; mobilize and strengthen public, private, and civil society partnerships for NCDs; promote multicountry, multisectoral activities in support of wellness; and to showcase national and community level activities to promote healthy living and encourage residents to develop good health practices.
Since 2008, Regional and national organizers with support from CARICOM and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) have conducted campaigns of regular physical activities for popular participation to promote healthy living for the prevention and control of NCDs under the theme ‘Love that body’. These campaigns have focused on promoting healthy foods, regular exercise, checking and controlling blood pressure and smoke free lifestyles and places.
Over the next few years the focus of CWD will be on addressing NCDs throughout the life course. Therefore this year, 2012, the focus will be on Children as the foundation for building healthy lifestyles, in 2013 on Adults the workforce for national and Regional development and in 2014 improving the quality of life of the Regions ageing population.
To build upon the successes of CWD, and to ensure sustainability, this year, under the theme ‘Love that body: Building the Foundation for Healthy Lifestyles’ Member States are encouraged to develop yearlong programming to facilitate the mainstreaming of programmes and interventions to address NCDs among children.
In addition, there is also the need to incorporate "Wellness Week". In 2011 given the advocacy and leadership of Caribbean leaders, a United Nations High Level Meeting dedicated to NCDs was hosted in New York in September. To commemorate this landmark summit, the Pan American Health Organization, Regional office of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the World Economic Forum, (the Forum) initiated “Wellness Week” a social movement for healthy living and to increase the awareness among individuals, policy makers, communities and employers about the importance of an enabling environment to facilitate making the healthy choice the easy choice. The initiative was institutionalized in the region of the Americas and is now reflected on the PAHO calendar. This year it will be observed from 16- 21 September.
In an effort to combine the global initiative of Wellness Week with the Regional Caribbean Wellness Day, we encourage Member States to commence observances around CWD, and as some Member States already do, extend observances throughout the month of September, now to end with Wellness Week.
Download a summary of activities for all CARICOM Member States
PICTURES: Caribbean Wellness Week 2012 Observances in Turkeyen, Guyana