Opening of the Stroke and Diabetes Centre

Feature Address By His Excellency Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona ORTT, SC President Of The Republic Of Trinidad And Tobago
At the Opening of the Stroke and Diabetes Centre – June 13, 2017

I feel a deep sense of hope today with the opening of a Centre dedicated solely to prevention and treatment of stroke and diabetes in Trinidad and Tobago.  Regrettably, Trinidad and Tobago is 4th in the world for diabetes mortality rate, per capita, a startling statistic that requires urgent and immediate attention.  Due credit therefore must be given to the visionary behind this project, Dr Gerard M Antoine, who never forgot where he came from.  This retired Lieutenant Colonel with 30 years of honourable military service, in the US Army Medical Corps and a Combat veteran of the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars has finally come back home to play his part in instituting transformational change in the healthcare system by the establishment of the Stroke and Diabetes Centre.  Dr Antoine’s passion and commitment are exemplified in him being the founder and medical director of Caribbean Medical Providers Practicing Abroad (CMPPA), a non-profit volunteer organization founded as a collaborative effort between the Caribbean medical diaspora and the Caribbean medical fraternity.  Decreasing morbidity and mortality resulting from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and strokes are the imperatives sought.

Strokes and Diabetes, concomitant with High Blood Pressure, both lifestyle diseases, have shown a marked increase in our citizens in the younger age brackets.  They are no longer associated with the elderly, the weak and the feeble but the stark, growing concern is that our young are at great risk.  This is in the main result of not adopting a healthy lifestyle with scant regard to diet and exercise.

We live in a society where most things are instant.  Science and automation have allowed us privileges that we never had before and as such, our lives have become easier.  Some menial tasks have even been eliminated from our daily lives with dire consequences.  Our children no longer have that culture of play.  Overall, our society has become less active and more sedentary.  In this regard, NCDs have been on the rise in Trinidad and Tobago.  There is a crisis in the region that must trigger solutions and I must commend Dr Antoine for responding with an implementable solution in the form of this centre.

My wife, Her Excellency, an advocate for healthier lifestyles, stated in Barbados only recently at a Sub-Regional Consultation for the English and Dutch Speaking Caribbean on the GLOBAL STRATEGY FOR WOMEN’S, CHILDREN’S AND ADOLESCENTS’ HEALTH, 2016-2030 and I quote, “The revolution that we seek with regard to a healthier society, healthier girls and women is to be found in the kitchens and classrooms of the Americas.  Parents should prepare healthy meals for their families and must be particular, from a health perspective, about what is placed in their children’s lunch kits.  A parent’s convenience must not dictate what is or is not in their child’s lunch kit.  Parents will complain about the price of eating healthy but ironically they are prepared to pay handsomely for ailments that they can prevent.”

Childhood Obesity is a pandemic in the Caribbean public health system.  More than 30% of Caribbean adolescents are overweight or obese, with the apparent risk of developing NCDs, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular diseases in early adult life.  When one considers the economic malaise of NCDs in the context of costing the Caribbean 1.4% to 8% of GDP, it portends a crisis in the human development of the Caribbean region.

I wish to thank once more Dr Antoine for his efforts to assist in creating a healthier Trinidad and Tobago.  A healthier and happier Trinidad and Tobago will ensure a more sustainable and productive citizenry, living longer and more enjoyable lives.

I thank you.