The Healthy Caribbean Coalition

March 18th - March 24th 2017


The First National NCD Alliance in the Region Launched in Trinidad & Tobago

T&T NCD Alliance
It was a historic occasion in Trinidad this past Wednesday March 22nd, when nine civil society organisations came together to officially launch the Trinidad & Tobago NCD Alliance, the first of its kind in the Caribbean -  a National NCD Alliance. While many National NCD Alliances exist in other parts of the world, this is the first such alliance to be formed in the Caribbean at the national level.

Opening remarks at the launch were provided by representatives from the Alliance, the Ministry of Health, PAHO, UN and the HCC. The nine founding organisations of the Alliance are the Trinidad & Tobago Cancer Society; the Diabetes Association of Trinidad & Tobago; the Trinidad and Tobago Heart Foundation; Heartbeat International of Trinidad & Tobago; the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition for Tobacco Control; Caribbean Sport and Development Agency; Trinidad and Tobago Association of Nutritionists and Dietician and the Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago (secretariat).  Guided by their vision to be the lead coordinator and voice of civil society in the fight against NCDs, the Alliance will focus their work on advocacy; monitoring and evaluating the national NCD response; NGO capacity building; representation in national, regional and global fora; supporting dialogue and networking; and resource mobilisation.
This journey started over one year ago when Dr. Karen Sealey convened a small group of health CSOs keen on exploring the idea of a unified civil society voice amplifying the NCD message in Trinidad. With passion and conviction, Dr. Sealey and the founding organsiations achieved what has not yet been achieved in the Caribbean. The growth of the TT NCD Alliance over the coming months and years presents a unique learning opportunity for other territories considering formation of national NCD alliances. The HCC Board of Directors and the executive director extend deepest congratulations to Dr. Karen Sealey and the nine founding members.  The HCC will support and collaborate with the Alliance as it works towards strengthening the civil society contribution to the National NCD response in Trinidad & Tobago.

See more images and video from the launch here.

Tackling Unhealthy Food Environments in Barbados 

The Barbados Ministry of Health and the Barbados National NCD Commission hosted a national consultation on Healthy Foods for Barbadians: Affordable, Safe and Nutritious Food: Combatting NCDs on Friday March 24, 2017.  The multisector meeting including representation by schoolchildren, faith-based organisations and the local chamber of commerce, was opened by Sir Trevor Hassell, Chair of the Barbados National NCD Commission and President of the HCC. In his opening remarks, Sir Trevor highlighted the staggering impact of NCDs by asking participants to stand if they had an NCD; he followed this by asking those with affected family members to stand -  after which time the entire room was on their feet. The powerful exercise harkened back to the early days of HIV and AIDS activism and had an immediate and profound impact on delegates.  

Acting PAHO/WHO Representative Dr. Peter Cowley followed with fulsome praise for the Barbados national NCD prevention and control response citing the implementation of the SSB tax, the National NCD Commission’s 10-year anniversary and the impact the collective efforts have had on the general public. He ended by sharing a recent experience in a Barber shop when 2 young men were discussing the unhealthiness of a national staple dish - macaroni pie. This is progress he remarked, when everyday people are discussing NCDs in their everyday lives.

The Hon. Minister of Health wrapped up the morning session with the feature address in which he praised the success of the National NCD Commission and noted that his Ministry is currently considering a ban on the sale, promotion and marketing of SSBs and unhealthy foods in schools across Barbados. Private sector initiatives were showcased featuring product reformulation, innovative cassava based products and retail sector programmes aimed at contributing to healthier food environments.
Food display
Displays illustrated sugar contents of popular SSBs and healthy food alternatives including cassava based products.  The HCC applauds the continued leadership of the Barbados National NCD Commission and the Ministry of Health and we commit to working with Barbadian civil society organisations to support advocacy aimed at advancing this agenda. The day’s deliberation's closed with a call to action. Civil society was well represented by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados and the Diabetes Association of Barbados. 

Related Press Coverage:
The Nation News: Too Much Sugar
Barbados Today: Not Just the Health Sector's Problem
Barbados Today: Government Mulls Ban on Soft Drink in Schools

HCC Policy Advisor Nicole Foster Discusses Philip Morris v Uruguay Case Note

In a recently published case note in the American Journal of International Law, HCC Policy Advisor Nicole Foster discusses last year’s arbitral ruling in the dispute brought by Philip Morris against the government of Uruguay in respect of Uruguay's measures implementing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The case note reviews the main findings of the arbitral tribunal, in particular, the tribunal’s discussion of the scope under international law for governments to legislate in the public interest, including in the area of health and the deference that should be paid by others to these sovereign determinations. Mrs. Foster describes the decision as "a significant victory for regulators in the ongoing battle between 'Big Tobacco' and governments seeking to implement increasingly stringent public health measures in fulfillment of obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organization (WHO).” She does caution, however, that governments and public health advocates more broadly should not take the ruling as ‘blank cheque’ for implementation of public measures which have or can have an adverse impact on trade. Based on the tribunal’s ruling, she identifies a number of key lessons to be learnt by those engaged in the development and drafting of public health policies in this area of tobacco control but also public health more generally.

Key among these lessons is the need for whatever policies that are developed (and ultimately the legislative measures that are based on these policies) to based on science and empirical evidence as far as possible. Another interesting feature of the Philip Morris litigation that is highlighted in the case note is the influential role of intergovernmental organisations such as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat, PAHO and the WHO, all of whom were allowed to participate in the arbitral proceedings as amicus curiae and whose views significantly influenced the arbitrators’ ultimate conclusions. The case note concludes by raising for further consideration the extent of the decision’s influence in terms of the battle for healthy food environments generally bearing in mind tobacco’s special characteristics as a heavily regulated commodity which is not a necessity. The full case note is published in (2016) 110 AJIL 774 and can be found here.

Sodium Adds Up

A Comparison of Sample Meal Plans in Barbados

With World Salt Awareness week upon us we carried out our own survey on salt content in sample meal plans in Barbados. Comparing high sodium content and offering low content alternatives.
Sodium Adds Up  - A Comparison of Sample Meal Plans in Barbados
Click here to see the full size version of our infographic.

Salt and Sodium: Defined
The words “salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing. Salt (also known by its chemical name, sodium chloride) is a crystal-like compound that is abundant in nature and is used to flavor and preserve food. Sodium is a mineral, and one of the chemical elements found in salt. Table salt is approximately 40 percent sodium.

Jamaica's Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton Calls For Banning Of Sodas In Schools

Jamaica's Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton
A move by Trinidad and Tobago to ban sodas in public schools was supported by Jamaica's health minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, who indicated that once he got the approval from Cabinet, a similar course of action would happen locally.

Trinidad's health minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, announced that as of April, the sale of soft drinks in government schools will be banned. Speaking at the launch of the National Dental Sealant Programme, which was held at the Clan Carthy Primary School in Kingston, he said that too many persons were afflicted with ailments that could have been prevented. Read more

Diabetes Association of Barbados Market Day

The Diabetes Association of Barbados is having a Market Day at the Headquarters, Cnr. Jessamine Ave, Beckles Rd, St. Michael, on Thursday, March 30, 2017, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. On sale will be a variety of fruits, vegetables and hand-made jewellery.

Soda Industry Spent $67 Million Fighting Sugar Taxes and Health Labels Since 2009!

Soda Industry Spent $67 Million Fighting Sugar Taxes and Health Labels Since 2009
The sugar-sweetened beverage industry's lobbying group, the American Beverage Association, and its two largest members, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo, spent at least $67 million fighting local soda taxes and warning labels on drinks in 19 cities and states since 2009, according to a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. 

One of the fronts where the soda war is being fought is Oakland, where companies have already spent $747,268 to oppose measure HH, a soda excise tax of one cent per ounce on distributors that will fund health education programs. Read more

Meal Prep: A Helpful Healthy Eating Strategy

Meal Prep: A Helpful Healthy Eating Strategy
Who hasn’t left work late with a growling stomach but little energy to shop and cook? A busy schedule is one of the top reasons why people choose quick takeout meals, which are often calorie-laden and a contributor to expanding waistlines. Now, imagine a different scenario where within a few minutes of walking through the door you have a delicious home-cooked dinner, and perhaps even lunch packed-up for the next day. Amidst hectic weekday schedules, meal prep or meal planning is a great tool to help keep us on a healthy eating track. Read more

Cancer Prevention Strategies Save Lives. Let’s Put Them to Work

Cancer Prevention Strategies Save Lives. Let’s Put Them to Work
March 20, 2017 - Karen Emmons, Professor and Dean for Academic Affairs at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an expert in cancer prevention interventions, says that knowledge we already have about ways to prevent cancer is not being used as effectively as it could be. 
Emmons and Graham Colditz of Washington University wrote about the issue in a recent NEJM opinion piece. Research suggests that more than half of cancers could be prevented by applying knowledge we already have. Can you give an example or two of how strong evidence regarding cancer prevention is not being used effectively? Read more

Cervical Cancer Action News Brief - March 2017

Cervical Cancer Action News Brief
  • The cost of cervical cancer prevention in low- and lower-middle-income countries
  • Cervical cancer prevention course
  • Scaling-up HPV vaccine introduction 
  • Resource stratified guideline on primary prevention of cervical cancer (HPV vaccination)

Alcohol and Cardiovascular Disease

Alcohol and Cardiovascular Disease
This week research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of several, but not all, cardiovascular diseases.

The finding that moderate drinking is not universally associated with a lower risk of all cardiovascular conditions suggests a more nuanced approach to the role of alcohol in prevention of cardiovascular disease is necessary, say the researchers.Moderate drinking is thought to be associated with a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared with abstinence or heavy drinking.

Read to two research papers and the related press coverage below:

Cancer Support Services 6th Annual Conference

62nd CARPHA Annual Health Research Conference

Registration is now open
62nd CARPHA Annual Health Research Conference

AC3 Conference 2017

AC3 Conference 2017

CMPPA 4th Annual Medical Conference & Community Outreach Program

Caribbean Cardiac Society - 32nd Caribbean Cardiology Conference - Early-Bird Registration Open

Caribbean Cardiac Society
Make your plans early to attend the 2017 Caribbean Cardiology Conference which will be held July 19 22, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Accommodation booking and early-bird registration are now open! Read more
NCD Alliance Newsletter
  • Birth of the Zambia NCD Alliance
  • New film reveals the unseen world of TB from the inside out
  • Same packaging, same shape and same color... but fakes!
  • Call for resources - Deliver for Good campaign
  • New national alcohol policy launched in Ghana
  • World Salt Awareness Week:
  • Salt - The Forgotten Killer
  • How can depression be prevented and treated?How 54 young teeth horrified a dentist, and motivated leaders to treat sugar as the new tobacco
Read more
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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 50 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.

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The work of HCC would not be possible without core funding from Sagicor Life Inc
Sagicor Life Inc.
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