The Caribbean Community will commemorate Caribbean Wellness Day 2023 with a call to action for all sectors in society to focus on “The Care We Need: At work | At school | At home” to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Region. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in partnership with the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is calling on all stakeholders to support policies, programmes and practices that enable Caribbean people to engage in health promoting behaviours in these three key environments.
Caribbean Wellness Day was established in 2007 as a part of a regional strategy to decrease the burden of NCDs on the lives and livelihood of Caribbean people. Environments that support behaviours such as physical activity, healthy eating, age-appropriate health screening and stress management have been proven to reduce the risk and improve the management of NCDs. This year’s campaign encourages leaders in all aspects of life to facilitate the adoption of these healthy behaviours in the spaces where individuals spend most of their time by making the healthy choices the easy choices.
Research has shown that multi-strategic approaches that engage all of society are more likely to be effective in combatting NCDs. Therefore, strategies should include policies or programmes at the institutional, national and regional level (via CARICOM); alongside direct empowerment of Caribbean citizens with tools to combat personal challenges.
It is noteworthy that a significant percentage of the Caribbean population spend a large portion of their time at work and school. In contemplating this, Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director at CARPHA noted, “Consequently, initiatives within workplaces and educational institutions hold the potential to have a profound impact on the health of the population. We must therefore seize the opportunity to support healthier lifestyles within these spheres."
The household plays a pivotal role in shaping the behaviours of Caribbean citizens. Dr. Heather Armstrong, Head of the Chronic Disease and Injury (CDI) department at CARPHA noted, “While national policies wield considerable influence over household choices, education can also empower individuals to make informed choices and create personal and household plans that facilitate healthy lifestyles.”
The fight against NCDs in the Caribbean requires the co-ordinated efforts of every level of society if it is to be successful. This year’s celebration comes with a challenge to every individual to build the courage to show they care and to examine the spaces in which they have the power to influence others to live a healthier lifestyle. We encourage you to use that power to build a healthier Caribbean, one household, one institution, one nation at a time.
About Caribbean Wellness Day and NCDs
Caribbean Wellness Day is celebrated each year on the second Saturday in September to address the threat posed by non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The day was originally conceived by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and is an integral part of the Port of Spain Declaration where the region united to fight the epidemic of NCDs. The event aims to increase awareness and promote activities to address non-communicable diseases including mental health issues.
More recently, through the Bridgetown Declaration, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) expressed that they remain deeply concerned about the challenges to the livelihood and wellbeing of people living with NCDs and mental health conditions. This coupled with the escalating climate crisis, represents an existential threat to health and development in SIDS. SIDS have reaffirmed their commitment to take bold SIDS-specific action to accelerate progress on NCDs and mental health. In this recent Bridgetown Declaration, the SIDS have voiced deep concerns. They believe the combined challenges of NCDs and mental health conditions, intensified by the growing climate crisis, pose a significant threat to the health and development in SIDS. In response to these concerns, they have reaffirmed their commitment to take bold, targeted actions to hasten progress on NCDs and mental health within SIDS regions.
The overall theme for Caribbean Wellness Day for the five year-period, 2020-2024, has been, “Power Through Collective Action”. This year, Caribbean Wellness Day falls on Saturday September 9th, 2023, and will be commemorated with a month-long celebration across the Caribbean.
You can find out more about Caribbean Wellness Day here