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High NCDs in the region making COVID worse

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High NCDs in the region making COVID worse

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WASHINGTON – The high prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Caribbean – such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer – is exacerbating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is also hindering the subregion’s progress towards achieving sustainable development due to their multiple health, economic and social consequences, according to the authorities, representatives of international organisations and specialists participating Thursday in a virtual event organised by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The event was held ahead of the 20th meeting of the Monitoring Committee of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC), to be held on Friday.

“Not only does the COVID-19 pandemic continue to rage in the Caribbean,” Executive Secretary of ECLAC Alicia Bárcena affirmed, emphasising that it is “one of the subregions of the world with the highest prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs)”.

Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that NCDs are the main cause of death in the subregion’s countries, ranging from 57 per cent in Haiti to 83 per cent in Barbados.

In each Caribbean country, more than half of all deaths annually can be attributed to non-communicable diseases, which also contribute significantly to disability, Bárcena warned.

The pandemic has aggravated the risks that people with non-communicable diseases face: not only do they continue to be at greater risk of dying or suffering severe illness from COVID-19 infection, they also have been affected by interruptions in health care due to services being overburdened, Bárcena explained.

In this context, the high-level United Nations representative called for accelerating vaccination efforts. The rate of full vaccination in the Caribbean amounts to 35.2 per cent, with great heterogeneity between countries. This percentage, she indicated, is below the global rate (39 per cent) and that of Latin America (47.5 per cent).

“The entire region of Latin America and the Caribbean should strengthen production, distribution and access to medicines and vaccines. To achieve this, on September 18, ECLAC presented the Plan for self-sufficiency in health matters requested by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). We are moving from design to implementation of the plan, with focal points in all the countries and various meetings planned for the coming months. We hope the Caribbean will join us,” Bárcena stated. (CMC)