PM praises Rotary
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has hailed the Rotary District 7030 for tackling health threats such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
At the opening ceremony of the District Conference and Assembly at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday evening, Stuart said the service organisation had done tremendous work over the years, with the highlight being its fight in eliminating the scourge of the polio from the earth.
“Within 25 years, you have succeeded in ridding children of a disease that has been afflicting them, some say, since Biblical times. You have raised over half a billion dollars, by various means, won the suport of wealthy sponsors like Bill Gates, and immunised over two billion children,” he said.
Stuart added that there were only four remaining pockets where the infantile illness can be found – Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and India.
Before a packed audience that included conference chairman Joe Steinbok and district governor Tony Watkins, this country’s seventh Prime Minister said his Government and Rotary should collaborate to take the health fight a step further.
“I know that this conference is focusing on tackling diabetes but I want to work with you in addressing the other chronic non communicable diseases including obesity and hypertension that frequently lead to stroke and heart failure,” he said.
Stuart said the growing awareness of these devastating lifestyle diseases had galvanised the heads of Government of CARICOM states to hold a special summit in Trinidad in 2007.
He restated statistics from the summit that indicated that the Caribbean’s were the highest in the Americas.
The Prime Minister said that total amputations at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital between 2002 and 2006 were 995 for diabetics and 230 for non-diabetics.
“What is disturbing about these facts is that these lifestyle diseases are preventable. Hence agreement was reached in the Port-of-Spain declaration, to use legislation, policies and programmes to make a frontal attack on this threat,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that his Government was firmly committed to responding positively to all aspects of the Port-of-Spain declaration.