Timothy Harris
**FILE** Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis Timothy Harris speaks to the media on Downing Street following a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May and representatives of Caribbean countries on April 17, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Timothy Harris, prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis and incoming chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said 2019 will be the year to combat chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) across the region.

In his New Year’s message, Harris said CARICOM will enter 2019 with “a renewed vigor and determination to maintain the momentum with which we ended 2018.”

He added that at the core of the region’s thrust for growth and development is a well-educated and healthy workforce.

He said chronic NCDs are a threat to the region’s sustainable development, a concern highlighted at a meeting at the United Nations earlier in the year.

“Our community’s commitment to battle against the ravages caused by chronic noncommunicable diseases is unrelenting,” Harris said in his Dec. 29 message. “Our ministers of health have agreed on a program called Caribbean Moves, which seeks to create a culture of regular physical activity and healthy eating through exciting, fun and supportive programs where people live, work, study and play. It is a whole society approach that we must embrace to tackle this continuing threat to our greatest resource — our people.”

The prime minister said 2019 will be the final year of the region’s first five-year strategic plan and preparations have already begun for the second plan, which will build on the accomplishments of its predecessor.

“There is no doubt that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy is the linchpin of our efforts at sustainable growth and development and in the coming year we will be looking to further advance its implementation from what has been achieved in 2018,” he said.

Pointing to the 30th inter-sessional meeting of CARICOM leaders in February, Harris said a special session will be held on Air and Maritime Transportation to focus on the critical aspect of integration.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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