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May 1st 2018

NCD Alliance, its Partners Including CLAS and the HCC, Rally in Support of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica

Following a recent lawsuit filed against the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ), there has been a groundswell of support from the global and regional civil society community for the HFJ. See below a statement of support from the NCD Alliance and partners including the HCC; a letter to Hon PM Holness from CLAS (The Healthy Latin America Coalition); and a letter to Hon. PM Holness from the HCC shared in HCC's Weekly Roundup last week.

Please share these supporting statements widely and let’s build a wall of support for the HFJ.


Underscoring the Importance of Public Awareness Campaigns to Prevent NCDs

Heart Foundation of Jamaica Mass Media Campaign ‘Are you drinking yourself sick?’ for Public Health

The NCD Alliance, together with the World Heart Federation, Coalición Latinoamérica Saludable, and the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, wishes to underscore the importance of mass media campaigns to protect and promote public health. We make this statement specifically in light of the news of the lawsuit brought by Wisynco Group Limited to the Heart Foundation of Jamaica regarding, ‘Are you drinking yourself sick?’, their campaign alerting Jamaicans to the harmful health effects of excessive sugar intake and encouraging them to consume less sugar.

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, accounting for 78.5% of mortality in Jamaica in 2015, and 70% globally. Much of the suffering from these conditions are attributable to four major and modifiable risk factors, including unhealthy diet. Unhealthy diets can specifically lead to obesity, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, among other chronic yet preventable diseases.

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are markers of and contributors to unhealthy diets, and can lead to obesity, with childhood obesity rates in Jamaica of particular alarming concern. To reduce the contribution of sugar to unhealthy diets, the World Health Organization recommends “reducing the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake” in both adults and children.(i) Jamaica’s sugar intake has increased significantly in the past 15 years, and population level consumption exceeds WHO recommended limits, particularly in children.

Globally, the commitment to protect populations from sugar sweetened beverage (SSBs) is gathering speed. A package of evidence-based and cost-effective policy recommendations for NCD prevention and control, developed by the World Health Organization, is being implemented by many governments. Suggested interventions within this package include mass media campaigns, nutrition education, improved nutrition labelling, and taxes on SSBs. The work by the Heart Foundation of Jamaica specifically responds to the recommendation for “mass media campaigns on healthy diets, including social marketing to reduce the intake of total fat, saturated fats, sugars and salt, and promote the intake of fruits and vegetables”. (ii)

In promoting the campaign ‘Are you drinking yourself sick?’ the Heart Foundation of Jamaica has sought to ensure that the population of Jamaica are able to benefit from similar measures to those which have already been implemented around the world. The governments of Hungary, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Tonga have all implemented public awareness campaigns to reduce sugar consumption. Similar efforts have been made by subnational departments of health including in New York and other US states, while civil society organisations in Australia, Colombia and Mexico have strengthened official government responses. (iii)(iv)

With world leaders convening for the third United Nations High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) on NCDs later this year in New York, the NCD Alliance is calling on all governments to accelerate action on NCDs, scale up action on childhood obesity, and implement smart fiscal policies for health, such as SSB taxes. We hope the UNHLM will provide an opportunity to showcase good practice and leadership by governments in the fight against NCDs, such as that of Jamaica, and incentivise others to take bold decisive action to bend the curve on these diseases.

We strongly urge priority be placed on the health of citizens, with the global market shifting toward healthier beverages. We cannot afford for industry interests to dominate public discourse at the expense of protecting the health of populations. We stand firmly with the Heart Foundation of Jamaica and commend its commitment to educating Jamaicans about the harms of excessive sugar consumption. Such actions are in full alignment with its mandate to ensure Jamaicans have a longer and better quality of life through the prevention and control of cardiovascular disease.
See the original letter here.


Dear Honorable Prime Minister Holness:

The Healthy Latin America Coalition or CLAS (for its abbreviation in Spanish) wishes to express strong support for the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) and its campaign to make the population of Jamaica aware of the harm that is caused by overconsumption of sugar sweetened beverages. The public should understand the connection between these beverages, obesity, and resulting disease such as diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.

CLAS is a regional non-communicable diseases (NCDs) alliance for Latin America, representing over 250 non-government organizations, whose purpose is to prevent and control NCDs in our region. Its members include medical societies, patient organizations, health NGOs, consumer protection organizations, religious entities, and academic institutions. Founded in 2011, CLAS is focused on reducing inequities, protecting human rights, and promoting effective policies with an impact on risk factors and determinants of NCDs.

Obesity is increasing in all of the Americas. But it is particularly prevalent in Jamaica and the Caribbean. The resulting diseases are a major burden to the healthcare system, families and individuals. No government can expect to improve the economic and social well-being of its citizens while ignoring the determinants of health. See recent series in The Lancet on the economics of unhealthy diets, smoking and sedentary behaviors: The Lancet Taskforce on NCDs and economics (April 11, 2018). It shows the tight-knit connection between economic growth and controlling NCDs.

We support the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) as well in its work to reduce premature mortality from these diseases in the Caribbean. HCC, as does CLAS, has a signifcant role to help inform the public about the health risks posed by unhealthy food and beverage consumption.

Sincerely yours,
Beatriz Marcet Champagne, PhD
See the original letter here.



The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC), on the occasion of the “HCC Caribbean NCD Forum: Supporting National Advocacy in Lead up to the 2018 High Level Meeting on NCDs. Towards 25*25 and the SDGs”, in Kingston, Jamaica, April 23-25, 2018, expresses our strong support for the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) and the objectives of its campaign to contribute to obesity prevention and control in Jamaica by informing the public about the health harms of the over-consumption of sugar sweetened beverages. 
As a collective of some 100+ civil society organisations representing every CARICOM country, the health of the peoples of the Caribbean, is at the centre of everything we do. The recent headline in the Jamaican Gleaner, dated April 25, 2018 entitled “Water War - Wisynco sues Heart Foundation over Campaign against sugary beverages” is therefore of serious concern to the HCC.
Evidence-based research from international organisations such as the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that added sugars in processed foods and beverages are linked to obesity and in turn contribute to NCDs such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers.  Premature mortality from these diseases in the Caribbean is the highest in our region. As organisations entrusted with protecting the health of Caribbean citizens - especially that of our children - we say ENOUGH. Our role as civil society organisations is to help inform our respective citizens about the health risks posed by unhealthy food and beverage consumption. We shall continue to do this in the responsible, urgent manner that the scale of the NCD crisis in our region demands. We also recall that our regional leaders have pledged to protect children and adults alike, by improving food environments through several measures, including ‘banning advertisement of potentially harmful foods which specifically target children; [and] elevating taxes on foods high in sugar, salt and trans-fats’ (Communiqué issued at the conclusion of The Thirty-Seventh Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, 4-6 July 2016, Georgetown, Guyana).
Besides being the major cause of premature deaths in our region, NCDs represent a real and present threat to the region’s sustainable development. We urge all stakeholders to put the health of our Caribbean people first.

The Board of Directors of the HCC
The HCC is a coalition of 100+ CSOs across CARICOM
See the original letter here.
The HCC is a regional network of Caribbean health NGOs and civil society organizations with the remit to combat chronic diseases (NCDs) and their associated risk factors and conditions. Our membership presently consists of more than 65 Caribbean-based health NGOs and over 55 not-for-profit organisations and, in excess of 200 individual members based in the Caribbean and across the globe.

To join the HCC email us at
The work of HCC would not be possible without core funding from Sagicor Life Inc
Sagicor Life Inc.
The HCC promote the work of civil society throughout the Caribbean in a variety of ways including sharing of their materials, this is not an endorsement of their materials or messages. The information contained in this newsletter is for general information purposes only, we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct but any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. Through this newsletter you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of the HCC. We have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.
Copyright © 2018 Healthy Caribbean Coalition, All rights reserved.

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