The Second International Conference on Non-Communicable Diseases of Children and Adolescents began here amid concerns for the well being of the future generations in the Caribbean.
Non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, and their tragic consequences for society have become a matter of great importance, Trinidad and Tobago's health minister, Dr. Fuad Khan, said during Wednesday's opening session.
The chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir George Alleyne, said the most important task is to continue elevating concerns about NCDs among youth to the highest political levels and press for the application of technical tools to give concrete expression to the political statements.
"And there must be concerted effort to ensure that the political and the technical are underpinned by an adequate social enterprise," said Sir George, director emeritus of the Pan American Health Organization.
"I believe that not enough importance in advocacy terms has been attached to the social and human aspects of NCDs in children - the consequences of diabetes on schooling, the social isolation and discrimination against the obese child and the ineffable tragedy of childhood cancer - a tragedy made starker by the inequities in terms of access to adequate treatment and palliative care when it is needed," he said.
Sir George noted that one of the declarations to emerge from the 2012 NCD Child Conference in Oakland, California, stressed the minimal influence children and adolescents have in shaping health policies and programs.
"NCD Child must continue to facilitate those voices being heard, act as a mouthpiece for them, but also use the institutional muscle that it possesses in their service," he said.
The two-day conference in Port of Spain was organized by the Geneva-based NCD Alliance in collaboration with the Trinidad and Tobago government. EFE