Health Leaders Head to Barbados to Tackle Biggest Health Killers

Doctors looking at xrays

Bridgetown, Barbados, 13 January 2023 (PAHO/WHO) - The Government of Barbados, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will host a High-Level technical meeting on January 17-18, at the Hilton Resort Barbados on noncommunicable diseases (NCDS) and mental health in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to identify challenges and set out recommendations to scale up action that save lives.

Recognizing the high burden of NCDs, including obesity, and mental health in SIDS countries, as well as the impact of climate change coupled with the impact of COVID-19 on health and economies in these particularly vulnerable states, this meeting serves to increase focus and to promote the urgency for action.

On a global scale, the SIDS countries have a higher burden of NCDs and poor outcomes when compared to the rest of the world. There are several commercial determinants that impact such outcomes such as high transactional costs and the remoteness of many SIDS countries. In addition, the burden on SIDS countries is exacerbated by climate change.

This technical meeting will serve as a follow-up to the virtual WHO SIDS Summit for Health held in July 2021, which urged Member States to strengthen their collaboration and partnership to address development challenges.  This is a follow up to the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway in 2014, which included a commitment to enable cooperation among SIDS countries on health, and a continuation of discussions first initiated in Barbados in 1994 on the Programme of Action for Sustainable Development of SIDS.

Senior technical representatives from the Ministries of Health, academics, people with lived experience, leaders from business and civil society will be in attendance.  The agenda will include how the impact of COVID-19, the climate crisis and the political, social, and commercial factors drive disproportionately high rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and lung cancer, as well as the steep rise in mental health conditions.

The meeting will act as a catalyst for sharing solutions that work and can be scaled up in other Small Island Developing States to save lives and improve quality of life. This includes analysis on the impact of soda taxes, efforts to reduce smoking, increase physical exercise and to decarbonise and mitigate the effects of climate change.

The proceedings of this technical meeting will provide the input to the SIDS ministerial conference on the prevention and control of NCDs and mental health, to be held in Barbados on June 14-15, 2023.

Link to webpage.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Donna Barker, Ministry of Health and Wellness -
Melissa Rollock, Government Information Service -
Jin Ni, World Health Organization - or
Brenda Lashley, Pan American Health Organization –