Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis, 10 February 2023 (PAHO) - Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) represent the major health burden in St. Kitts and Nevis. Mortality resulting from heart disease, stroke, cancer, and complications of diabetes accounts for almost 60% of the total deaths occurring in the Federation.
The achievement of sustainable development and for the prevention and control of NCDs lies beyond the health sector progress and requires a multisectoral partnerships and actions across the public and private sectors. The collaboration was strengthened at a three-day national high-level workshop convened during the period February 7-9, 2023 and provided a forum to discuss the current NCD situation and establish commitments from the stakeholders to reduce the impact of NCDs in the Federation.
The expected outcome of the workshop was to inform the review and update of the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for the Prevention, Control, and Management of NCDs in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Prime Minister who also holds the Ministry of Health portfolio Hon Dr Terrance Drew in his opening remarks reiterated the commitment of his government to tackling the NCD epidemic. He called on all the stakeholders to understand the role of their sector and said “I challenge you to think outside the box and come up with innovative strategies” that together can be implemented to improve the health and well-being of the population.
Minister of Health, Gender Affairs, Social Services and Community Development for Nevis, Hon Jahnel Nisbett reminded the participants that while great strides have been made through the implementation of various initiatives, there is much more to be done. She outlined the importance of targeting the children indicating that interventions need to commence early in children’s lives to impact future lifestyle changes.
Dr. Amalia Del Riego, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries thanked the Ministry for convening the workshop and commended the various stakeholders for their involvement. She stated, “implementing policies will need consensus building among key sectors of the government, engaging other stakeholders, and establishing regulatory frameworks.” She urged active participation in the meeting and encouraged participants to identify those actions that their Ministry, Department, or Agency can actively play a role in its implementation.
The presentations included a) the country’s status with regard to the current NCD situation and regional and global commitments; b) the NCD Surveillance, review of regional and international reporting obligations, and identify any challenges and gaps; c) the current NCD policy and legislative developments; d) showcased successful NCD programmes and initiatives and identified areas for partnerships to support these programs; and e) building commitment from all stakeholders to achieve the sustainability of the NCD Programme and the implementation of its activities and programmes.
The meeting was attended by 100 country participants on day 1 and over 80 persons on days 2 and 3. These included the Chief Medical Officer, Permanent Secretaries, Directors of Government Departments, Other Public Sector Stakeholders, Private Sector Stakeholders, Medical Professionals, Caregivers, Civil Society Organizations, Faith Based Organizations, Ethnical/Cultural Groups and Academia.
Dr Taraleen Malcolm, Advisor for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health who was in attendance shared the Global Commitments for Non-Communicable Diseases and outlined the importance of NCD Surveillance and its role in program planning. She also detailed the process for developing a national multisectoral plan of action for the prevention and control of NCDs. Dr Heather Armstrong, Acting Head of Chronic Disease, and Injury at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) was in attendance and outlined the regional commitments for NCDs and the St. Kitts and Nevis status.
The participants were able to understand the magnitude of the NCD burden on health, economy and the overall development of the country and provide feedback to the five priority areas of the NCD plan 1) Risk factor reduction and health promotion; 2) Integrated management and patient self-management education; 3) Surveillance, monitoring and evaluation; 4) Public policy, advocacy and communications; and 5) Programme management.