People throughout the Caribbean, including Guyana, will soon be receiving text messages with tips on how to be healthier and prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Through social networks, they’ll also be able to share their personal stories and ideas about healthy living, thanks to a campaign launched yesterday by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition.
The campaign will also try to mobilise one million text messages from cell phones in the Caribbean to show support for the upcoming United Nations (U.N.) summit on chronic non-communicable diseases.
The meeting will take place during the U.N. General Assembly and will focus on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases worldwide, with special emphasis on their social and economic impacts, particularly in developing countries.
Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and illness around the world, but their toll is particularly high in the Caribbean, where more than half of all deaths and most illnesses are due to chronic diseases.
About one in five people in the Caribbean suffers from high blood pressure, and one in 10 has diabetes. Much of this burden could be prevented by reducing risk factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use.
The new campaign will, upon request, send daily “health tip alerts” to cell phone users and will produce public service announcements (PSAs) about healthy lifestyles and chronic disease prevention. The PSAs will be broadcast on television and radio, printed in newspapers and appear on websites and other social media networks of health-related non-governmental and civil society organisations.
In early March, more than 55 non governmental organisations from Latin America formed the Healthy Latin American Coalition to coordinate civil society action to reduce chronic non-communicable diseases and to promote the participation of governments in the upcoming U.N. summit.
A week earlier, health authorities from throughout the Americas agreed on a series of actions to reduce chronic non-communicable diseases and recommended that the region’s heads of state attend the U.N. meeting.
The Coalition has been established as a Caribbean Civil Society alliance for tackling Chronic Non Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) in the areas of advocacy and coalition building, public education and media campaigns, improved provision of services, and monitoring and evaluation.
The coalition is expected to support existing country level civil society networks /coalitions where they exist and promote their development where they do not exist, and will encourage and support the establishment and development of national Commissions for CNCDs in all countries of the Caribbean.
A small, regional, Organising Task Force, comprising of key partners from civil society, is responsible for advancing and implementing the Action Plan. Membership of the Task Force presently under the chairmanship of Prof. Trevor A. Hassell, Chairman of the Barbados National Chronic Non Communicable diseases commission, includes 2 civil society regional organisation representatives, 4 national civil society organisation representatives, a representative of academia, a PAHO observer, and a national government observer.
Membership of the Coalition is open to all civil society organisations in the Caribbean with an interest in reducing the burden of CNCDs. Organisations with linkages to the tobacco industry will not be permitted to join the Healthy Caribbean Coalition.
The Healthy Caribbean Coalition website www.healthycaribbean.org. has been set up as an important element of the communications strategy of the Coalition.
The website will be used to exchange information among members of the coalition, provide linkages to important relevant organisations, educate about best practice related to CNCDs, disseminate information, inform about events, be used in advocacy, and provide a medium for members of the public to access information about CNCDs in the Caribbean.
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