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Small Island Developing States accelerate action to tackle biggest killers

The Government of Barbados, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization are holding a high-level technical meeting on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health with Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The discussion focusses on progress, challenges, and opportunities to scale up multi-sector actions on NCDs and mental health and to set out recommendations to scale up actions that save and improve lives.

For this occasion, WHO has released a data portal on NCDs in SIDS highlighting some of the highest prevalence rates of NCD and mental health risks in the world. The data shows that over half of people in SIDS are dying prematurely from NCDs and the rate of hypertension is over 30% in almost all of the countries.

Ten of the countries with the highest rates of obesity worldwide are small island states. The highest prevalence of diabetes among adults in the world is also projected to be in SIDS. Rates of mental health conditions reach as high as 15% in the Caribbean and the Pacific.

“Countries are facing multiple overlapping crises. The climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with poverty, unemployment, inequality and the marginalization of minority communities are fuelling an increase in noncommunicable diseases and mental health conditions,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “To address these challenges, we need to hear from affected communities about the challenges they face and the solutions that work in diverse settings. We look forward to working with SIDS to achieve ambitious outcomes on NCDs and mental health.”

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