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The Presidential Commission on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases has been reappointed by Cabinet.
The reconstituted commission, which is being chaired by former Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, met for the first time on Wednesday in the boardroom of the Mental Health Unit on Quamina Street.
The multi-sector commission includes members from various ministries, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, the University of Guyana, religious bodies.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, who made a special guest appearance, urged the Commission to be proactive.
The Health Minister said he is looking forward to an enhanced collaborative approach between the Commission and the Health Ministry that would result in an aggressive fight against the risk factors that contribute to a heavy disease burden from the NCDs. Some risk factors include the use of alcohol and tobacco, lack of physical activity and poor diet.
Further, Dr. Anthony urged the Commission to be active in the fight against diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancers and cardiac diseases. He also recommended that significant attention be placed on the fight against cervical, breast and prostate cancer. It was on this note that he expressed disappointment in the low rate of HPV vaccination and the low uptake of VIA in the fight against cervical cancer. The Minister also expressed dismay in the increasingly poor diet that Guyanese consume, particularly, high sugar and salt diet. He expressed a desire for increasing the profile of mental health in the work of both the Ministry and the Commission.
More than 41M (71%) of the 58M deaths per year in the world are due to the NCDs. In addition, the NCDs contribute the majority of the Global Burden of Diseases. In Guyana, 68% of all deaths are linked to the NCDs.
There is a growing global focus on innovative strategies to effectively respond to the NCD crisis. In this regards, increasing attention is being paid to the value of National NCD Commissions as platforms for achieving truly multi-sectoral, health-in-all-policies responses to the NCD epidemic.
In the Caribbean, the mandate originally derived from the 2007 Port of Spain Declaration: Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of NCDs, issued by the Heads of Government of CARICOM in 2007. One of the commitments made in the declaration was the establishment of National Commissions on NCDs, or analogous bodies, to plan and coordinate the comprehensive prevention and control of chronic NCDs. In response to this call, since 2007, many CARICOM countries responded by establishing National NCD Commissions to foster a whole of society and whole of government response to chronic diseases.
Even before this declaration, Guyana had established a National Oversight Committee on NCDs, the forerunner of the National Commission on the NCDs, chaired by the then Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy. In 2014, Cabinet stamped the oversight committee to become the Presidential National Commission on the NCDs. The Cabinet decision approved the establishment of the National Commission for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases and the proposed Terms of Reference (TOR). Guyana’s Presidential Commission on the Prevention and Control of NCDs was again affirmed by a Cabinet decision on January 24, 2017 and it was re-launched by the then President David Granger in December 2017.
Outside of the Port of Spain Declaration, the Presidential National Commission for the Prevention and Control of NCDs in Guyana, like the National Commissions on the NCDs in other CARICOM and non-CARICOM countries, further derived their mandate from recommendations from the UN High-Level Meeting (2008) on the NCDs, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, WHO’s Nutrition, Physical Activity Resolution, WHO’s Global NCD Action Plan 2013-2020, PAHO NCD Regional Action Plan 2013-2019, Caribbean Cooperation in Health Phase IV (CCHIV, 2016-2025) and the National NCD Strategic Plans (In Guyana’s case the 2013-2020 Strategic Plan).
Guyana’s Presidential Commission on the Prevention and Control of NCDs primary role is to raise awareness among the public and among decision makers of the burden of chronic diseases locally and regionally, their common risk factors across the life-span and effective evidenced-based interventions to prevent and control Chronic NCDs, in collaboration with the media and other organizations.
Additionally, it will advise the government on policies, legislation and national mechanism to plan, coordinate and evaluate implementation of national strategies and programs for the prevention and control of NCDs.
The members include: Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsarran; the Ministry of Education’s Health Promotions Coordinator, Dionne Browne; Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government, Prema Roopnarine; Deputy CEO of Guyana Livestock Development Authority, Dr Dwight Waldron; Representative of the Diabetic Association, Glynis Beaton; Secretary of the Guyana Press Association, Svetlana Marshall-Abrams; Advisor to the Minister of Home Affairs, Harry Gill; Senior Medical Registrar of the Georgetown Public Hospital, Dr. Grace Waldron-White; PAHO’s Specialist on NCD and Family Health, Dr. Karen Roberts; UNICEF Deputy Representative, Irfan Akhtar and UN Population Fund Representative Adler Bynoe.
Ex-Officio Members include: Chief Medical Officer, Dr Narine Singh; NCD Coordinator, Indira Bhoj and Chief Nursing Officer, Linda Johnson.