Minister Lawrence updates regional forum on Guyana’s progress in combatting NCDs

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The passage of the Tobacco Control Legislation has been recorded as a major advance by Guyana in combatting Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDS). The bill was assented to by President David Granger.

Hon. Volda Lawrence, Minister of Public Health.

Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence in a recorded video presentation to the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) meeting outlined that this existing legislation in Guyana is a demonstration of the government’s commitment to join the campaign against the scourge of NCDs in the Caribbean region. She however noted that it is still “a work in progress.”

The HCC forum has been convened in Kingston Jamaica from April 23 to 25 2018.

Minister Lawrence’s report focused mainly on the climate in Guyana before, during and even after the passage of the tobacco control bill.

The minister made mention of the tobacco company’s strong lobby in resisting the legislation.

According to Minister Lawrence “they [tobacco company] claimed that, the Bill had gone too far, and that Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago had less stringent laws.”

“They played on public emotion spewing misinformation that the passage of the laws would infringe on civil liberties, would ban the sale of tobacco products, and would bar former employees of the tobacco industry from employment by the Government,” Minister Lawrence further explained.

The Guyanese delegation attending the forum (from left to right) Head of the Chronic Diseases Unit MoPH, Dr. Kavita Singh, First Lady Mrs. Sandra Granger, Chief Medical Officer, MoPH, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud and President, Guyana Diabetic Association Glynis Beaton.

In attempting to pass tobacco control laws, the government, Minister Lawrence said, has learnt a very important lesson that engaging the media at a very early stage is critical.

“We recognised that with the sensitisation of media over the years to the reasons for tobacco control measures, the anti-tobacco control rhetoric was balanced. The manner of reporting sought to bring the public health perspective to the fore, emphasising the ravages of tobacco smoke on one’s health.”

The government’s media campaign helped in raising awareness on the effects of smoking and second-hand smoke.

The HCC forum draws Public Health Officials from across the Caribbean and they showcase their respective countries’ successes, discuss and share strategies in combatting NCDs.

The Guyanese Delegation includes First Lady Sandra Granger, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, Director of the Ministry of Health’s Chronic Disease Unit Dr. Kavita Singh and President of the Guyana Diabetic Association (GDA) Glynis Beaton.

 

 

By: Delicia Haynes

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