Minister of Health addresses the spread of Non-Communicable Diseases at United Nations meeting 

joseph fatima
Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment Sir Molwyn Joseph and UN's Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States Ms. Rabab Fatima
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Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment Sir Molwyn Joseph pleaded the case for increased investment in new and innovative programmes to manage the escalating spread of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). 

Sir Molwyn was at the time addressing a high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage, which was held on the margins of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Sir Molwyn has been a strong and forceful advocate on the spread of NCDs, a worrying health concern which has taken lives and heaped a burdensome cost resulting from the care of patients on the country’s health system. 

He addressed the issue against the backdrop of the severe challenges that small states like Antigua and Barbuda experienced at the very height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The disease only served to expose and exacerbate the particular vulnerabilities of those persons living with NCD’s. 

“Of course, we have other challenges in meeting our obligations and there are none more critical than the financing of a modern healthcare system and the prevention and reduction of the incidents of NCD’s among our population…” Sir Molwyn told the meeting. 

“During Covid, it was clear that individuals suffering from NCD’s were more vulnerable to the virus and so it is essential that we improve and develop new programmes to prevent the high incidents of NCDs,” he stressed. 

The UN meeting, which was convened to review the progress and challenges of achieving universal health coverage by 2030, was held under the theme “Universal health coverage: expanding our ambition for health and well-being in a post-COVID world”

“Covid demonstrated clearly that there is need to have a global system that can meet the requirements of all countries during a pandemic…” the Minister told the high level UN meeting as he urged delegates to take all possible measures in preparing for any possible pandemics in the future. 

“This system must be scalable and flexible to meet the varied supplies, medications and analysis that will be required to effectively manage any future global pandemics,” he stressed. 

In this connection, the Minister was forceful in his suggestion that the region, specifically Latin America and the Caribbean, should seek to build the capacity to undertake the manufacturing of vaccines to ensure an adequate and effective response to the health needs of our people. 

He noted the considerable investments that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has already made in combatting the spread of NCDs such as Diabetes, Hypertension and Cancer. Sir Molwn therefore expressed hope that they will achieve their goal of eliminating cervical cancer by 2030. 

The support of regional health institutions, he noted, was paramount in overcoming these challenges and as such he hailed the example being set by PAHO and WHO in joining Antigua and Barbuda in seeking to improve its health services and develop universal health care.

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