Small island developing States step up action to address major causes of death

Small island developing States step up action to address major causes of death

Small island developing States step up action to address major causes of death

The Government of Barbados, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization convened a high-level technical meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health with Small Island Developing States ( SIDS). Discussions focused on progress made, challenges faced and opportunities for scaling up multisectoral action on NCDs and mental health. They also focused on opportunities to make recommendations to strengthen action to save and improve lives.

On this occasion, the WHO set up a NCDs data portal in SIDSwhich highlights some of the highest prevalence rates of NCD risks and mental health risks in the world. Data show that more than half of the population of SIDS dies prematurely due to NCDs and that the rate of hypertension exceeds 30% in almost all countries.

Ten of the countries with the highest obesity rates in the world are small island states. Moreover, the prevalence of diabetes in adults is believed to be the highest in the world in SIDS. Rates of mental health problems reach 15% in the Caribbean and the Pacific.

“Countries face multiple, overlapping crises. The climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with poverty, unemployment, inequality and the marginalization of minority communities, are generating an increase in NCDs and mental health problems,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus , WHO Director-General. “To overcome these challenges, we need to hear from affected communities about the barriers they face and the solutions that work in different contexts. We look forward to working with SIDS to achieve ambitious results on NCDs and mental health. »

SIDS are disproportionately exposed to the effects of the climate crisis on physical and mental health. The high prevalence of NCD risk factors such as tobacco use, low level of physical activity, unhealthy diet and obesity, combined with the poor integration of NCD and mental health services in primary health care (PHC) and universal health coverage (UHC), have put populations at risk of contracting a severe form of COVID-19. This has put additional pressure on already strained health systems. Progress in, and investment in, NCD prevention and control, as well as mental health promotion and care, remains insufficient.

“SIDS have always faced inordinate challenges, pioneered solutions and influenced the list of global priorities to advance development,” said Barbados Minister of Health and Welfare, the Honorable Dr. Jerome Walcott. “We identified the issues and drivers, while mobilizing resources, working with non-traditional partners and committing to action. It is incumbent on us to carefully consider initiatives that help combat NCDs and that have the potential to have a positive impact and improve the health and well-being of our citizens. »

At the high-level meeting, countries identified key recommendations for scaling up action on NCDs and mental health to meet the Sustainable Development Goals target of reducing premature mortality from to NCDs and suicide before 2030.

The recommendations include concrete actions to scale up collaboration to ensure early detection, prevention and management of NCDs and mental health issues in SIDS; strengthen health systems in the face of the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic; promote health and prevent NCDs with a focus on tackling obesity; to provide adequate and sustainable resources (financial and human) to foster action against NCDs and promote mental health; and strengthening information systems for health. These recommendations will also inform the outcome document of the June 2023 ministerial meeting.

It was further highlighted at the meeting that SIDS are playing a leading role in delivering low-cost, high-impact solutions to reduce the most common risk factors for NCDs and health problems. mental. Examples of successful prevention and treatment interventions in SIDS include the use of health taxes; taking health into account in climate change adaptation and mitigation measures; physical and mental health and well-being campaigns; expanding treatment coverage for NCDs and mental health as part of universal health coverage activities; and maintaining NCD and mental health services during health emergencies.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss the trade factors underlying NTMs. Trade policies and agreements, through their influence on the prices, availability and promotion of food products, cigarettes and alcohol, have contributed to intensifying the trend away from diets and sources traditional nutrition. This process has contributed to the alarming levels of obesity, food insecurity and NCDs in SIDS.

People living with NCDs or mental health issues in several SIDS shared their experiences. Health professionals, civil society representatives, academics and development partners also participated in the meeting.

“Achieving UHC and building societies that are resilient to climate change will be key to tackling the risk factors for NCDs and mental health problems, and to ensuring that people living with these conditions can access treatment and support. support they need,” said Dr. Bente Mikkelsen. “Based on the outcomes of this meeting, participants at the next ministerial meeting in June 2023 will set an ambitious agenda to strengthen the capacity of SIDS to achieve life-saving NCD and mental health results and to deliver, at world, the impetus required to carry out the agenda of combating NCDs and supporting mental health”.

In addition, this program will inform and facilitate preparations for the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on UHC to be held in 2023, the Fourth High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly of Nations on NCDs to be held in 2025 and future world health summits focusing on mental health and climate change.


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