May 7, 2013

Addressing NCDs in the Eastern Caribbean

Jamila Sykes,
Program Manager, GHLI

According to the World Bank, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for six of the top 10 leading causes of death in the Eastern Caribbean, quickly replacing infectious diseases as the main cause of mortality in the region. Communities in the Eastern Caribbean have devastatingly poor health outcomes for chronic conditions when compared with the U.S. mainland – making risk factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol abuse major contributors to the death toll.

A delegation from the Eastern Caribbean, led by representatives from Trinidad and Tobago, will attend the GHLI Conference in June to focus on strengthening primary health care and to address the growing burden of NCDs in their region.

GHLI staff recently visited partners in Trinidad and Tobago to discuss NCD-related issues that they plan to address at the Conference. The delegation will primarily focus on how improvements to information technology systems in the public health care system that collect data, statistics and information about patients afflicted by NCDs can lead to better policy making around NCD prevention, treatment and care.  

Meetings during our visit to Port of Spain, Trinidad, brought together researchers from the University of West Indies St. Augustine and public health practitioners at the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Health.

Trinidad and Tobago’s involvement in the GHLI Conference is a part of a larger effort to address NCDs in the eastern Caribbean: the country is one of four participating in the Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network (ECHORN). ECHORN is a community-based prospective cohort study geared towards expanding clinical research with racial/ethnic minority populations across four Eastern Caribbean sites: Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, the United States Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
The trip was effective in bringing the right parties to the table that have the interest and expertise to tackle the growing challenge of addressing NCDs in the eastern Caribbean. We look forward to continuing the discussion and strategy development at the upcoming GHLI Conference. 

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