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New Caribbean Campaign Uses Cell Phones, Social Media to Fight Chronic Diseases




People throughout the Caribbean will soon be receiving text messages with tips on how to be healthier and prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Through social networks, they’ll also be able to share their personal stories and ideas about healthy living, thanks to a campaign launched by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition.

Healthy Caribbean Coalition hopes to send a million messages to support the upcoming U.N. summit on noncommunicable diseases

Washington, D.C., March 18, 2011 (PAHO) — People throughout the Caribbean will soon be receiving text messages with tips on how to be healthier and prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Through social networks, they’ll also be able to share their personal stories and ideas about healthy living, thanks to a campaign launched today by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition.

The campaign will also try to mobilize 1 million text messages from cell phones in the Caribbean to show support for the upcoming United Nations summit on chronic noncommunicable diseases.

The purpose of the campaign, which is supported by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), is to raise awareness among people in the Caribbean about the importance of healthy lifestyles and to mobilize support for the U.N. High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases, slated for September 19 and 20 in New York. The meeting will take place during the U.N. General Assembly and will focus on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases worldwide, with special emphasis on their social and economic impacts, particularly in developing countries.

Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and illness around the world, but their toll is particularly high in the Caribbean, where more than half of all deaths and most illnesses are due to chronic diseases. About one in five people in the Caribbean suffers from high blood pressure, and one in 10 has diabetes. Much of this burden could be prevented by reducing risk factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use.

The new campaign will, upon request, send daily “health tip alerts” to cell phone users and will produce public service announcements (PSAs) about healthy lifestyles and chronic disease prevention. The PSAs will be broadcast on television and radio, printed in newspapers, and appear on websites and other social media networks of health-related nongovernmental and civil society organizations.

In early March, more than 55 nongovernmental organizations from Latin America formed the Healthy Latin American Coalition to coordinate civil society action to reduce chronic noncommunicable diseases and to promote the participation of governments in the upcoming U.N. summit.

A week earlier, health authorities from throughout the Americas agreed on a series of actions to reduce chronic noncommunicable diseases and recommended that the region’s heads of state attend the U.N. meeting.

Contact

eHealth Program
Department of Knowledge Management, Bioethics and Research
Pan American Health Organization
525 23rd ST NW, 20037, Washington DC, US
Email: ehealth@paho.org

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
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Tel.: +1 (202) 974-3000 Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663
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