PAHO said representatives of public health systems, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and civil society from 18 Caribbean countries and territories met here this week with the international agencies that integrate the Regional Coordination Mechanism for the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health in order to adapt the Strategy to the context of the Caribbean.
“We need to identify interventions, that are practical, affordable and impactful, while ensuring that we bear in mind the cultural, ethnic and economic diversities that make the Caribbean such a colourful, varied and interesting region of this world,” said Godfrey Xuereb, PAHO’s representative for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean.
The wife of Belize’s Prime Minister and Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis Barrow, and the First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago, Reema Carmona, attended the meeting.
PAHO said both have been part of the sub-regional adaptation of The Global Strategy, called “All Caribbean Women, All Caribbean Children.”
Carmona underscored that “this strategy is an imperative if we want to leave no one behind”, and asked to consider the impact that climate change and environmental degradation have on the factors that determine health.
Simplis Barrow added that, in order to be successful at implementing the Strategy, “we must ensure that we pursue a coordinated, solidarity-based, financially sustainable and partnership approach”.
During the meeting, PAHO said experts and officials discussed the nine areas of action of the Global Strategy and the particular conditions of the Caribbean that may be challenges and opportunities towards the implementation of actions for the health of women, children and adolescents.
PAHO’s Director of the Family, Gender and Life Course Department, Andrés de Francisco, considered the Global Strategy as “an opportunity,” pointing out that bringing together key players in the Caribbean to adapt the strategy to the regional context is fundamental to building synergies and mobilize and coordinate actions.
The new strategy, based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), seeks to end the preventable mortality of women, children and adolescents, to achieve their health and well-being, and to expand the enabling environments for this population to thrive.
Xuereb underscored the inclusion of adolescents in the new strategy, which he considered central in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.
“If we have unhealthy adolescents, we risk reversing the development we have achieved, and we risk economic and social collapse,” he said.
In the Caribbean, PAHO said adolescents make up 26 per cent of the population.
It added that suicide, violence, no communicable diseases, adolescent pregnancy, child marriage and cervical cancer are among the challenges in adolescent health that the Global Strategy adapted to the Caribbean would seek to address.
Karen Broome, Medical Officer at the Barbados Ministry of Health, highlighted the health challenges of adolescents – such as HIV risk, adolescent pregnancy and unsafe abortion – who on that island represent 13 percent of the population.
Luisa Brumana, Regional Health Adviser for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Latin America and the Caribbean, said that one of the challenges for public health systems is to develop programs to address violence against children and adolescents that have clear rules and procedures that allow health workers attend and appropriately refer victims of violence.
“The adaptation of the Global Strategy to the realities of Latin America and the Caribbean requires a systems approach, with an emphasis on equity and multi-sectoral actions,” she said.
PAHO said the three overall objectives of the Global Strategy are “survival, thrive and transformation, so that no woman, no child, and no adolescent are at risk of preventable death”.
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