International Development Law Organization

Tackling 'Lifestyle' Diseases in the Caribbean

22 Jul 2014

IDLO Director-General Irene Khan and Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Executive Director James Hospedales have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on non-communicable diseases. The text pledges joint action to strengthen legal frameworks and expand capacity to tackle cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes in the Caribbean. Under the Memorandum, IDLO and CARPHA also undertake to cooperate in promoting healthy diets and physical activity.

Speaking at an ambassadorial briefing hosted by regional body CARICOM in New York, Dr Hospedales noted that overweight and obesity in children and adolescents had tripled in some nations in the past 20 years. One study (by the University of the West Indies) puts the direct and indirect cost of diabetes and hypertension at up to 8% of GDP. The findings are largely explained by the high content of fat, salt and sugar in contemporary diets, coupled with low levels of physical activity. 

The briefing, which preceded the signing ceremony, was organized jointly by IDLO and CARPHA. The two bodies will now develop a joint workplan for research, technical assistance, capacity building and professional networking through 2019. Other key partners include the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, and national and regional legal institutions such as universities and bar associations.