PAHO Conference Marks 30 Years of Caribbean Health Promotion, Addresses Future Challenges

Health Promotion Grenada
PAHO Conference Marks 30 Years of Caribbean Health Promotion, Addresses Future Challenges 2

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recently hosted an event in Grenada, titled “Strengthening Health Promotion: Three Decades after the Caribbean Charter” to mark the 30th anniversary of the Caribbean Charter for Health Promotion established in 1993. This conference brought together health officials from across the Caribbean to review the progress in health promotion and address the region’s ongoing health challenges.

The conference aimed to assess the current state of health promotion, identify key strengths and challenges, emphasize health promotion as a priority in political and technical agendas, and develop a roadmap for future initiatives. Dr. Amalia Del Riego, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries, highlighted the event’s significance in celebrating achievements, addressing unfinished agendas, and developing innovative health approaches.

The conference addressed the complex health landscape in the Caribbean, including the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, rising mental health issues, infectious diseases, and the impact of climate change.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating effects were a central topic, with lessons learned about prioritizing health in national agendas. Senator the Honourable Jonathan LaCrette, Minister of Health, Wellness and Religious Affairs, remarked on the pandemic’s role in elevating health as a global priority, emphasizing the importance of healthy and productive citizens for sustainable economies.

Dr. Gerry Eijkemans, PAHO/WHO Director of the Department of Social and Environmental Determinants for Health Equity, stressed that health promotion is essential for maintaining healthy populations. She pointed out that healthy living depends on factors like affordability, safety, and time constraints due to work and caregiving responsibilities.

The conference saw participation from health ministers, chief medical officers, health promotion officers, and PAHO officials from various regions, including the Office of Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries, Washington DC, Belize, and Suriname. Approximately 40 participants from various Caribbean countries and regions attended, demonstrating a collective regional commitment to advancing health promotion strategies.

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