Geneva, Switzerland – Health Minister, Dr. Chris Tufton, has urged the World Health Organization, WHO, to lead in driving the adoption of robust measures and initiatives to address the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) crisis with all options on the table. He pointed to daunting statistics in which 25% of Jamaicans between 15 and 74 years old have hypertension; approximately 8% or almost 150,000 Jamaicans suffer from diabetes; approximately 70% of deaths are due to the four major NCDs – 35% of which occur below the age of 70 years old.
“Individual Governments cannot do it alone. Indeed, while many are undertaking creative measures, some, particularly small Island Developing states (SIDS) like Jamaica face daunting challenges including push back from industry and other interest groups,” the Minister said.
He pointed to the Jamaican example with the establishment a Food Industry Task Force commissioned to make recommendations for improved food labelling and reformulation, public information and fiscal measures. The Minister said in the coming months, these recommendations will stimulate a national dialogue and public awareness of the need to promote and practice healthier consumption habits and drive lifestyle changes for the protection of the vulnerable, especially children. The Minister is hopeful that business will see the benefits of promoting good health among their consumers and that they will be energised to produce better options.
Dr. Tufton reiterated the position he presented to the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting earlier this week, by pointing out to the WHO that with joint action at the regional and global levels, the ability to succeed in the battle against NCDs will be enhanced.
He called for greater coordination and leadership by the WHO in addressing the NCDs crisis and welcomed the pledge by the new Director General to make this NCD battle a priority.