BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, April 17, 2023 (SKNIS) – Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Honourable Dr Terrance Drew, addressed the CARICOM Regional Symposium on “Crime and Violence as a Public Health Issue – The Crime Challenge” today (April 17) where he pointed out that an evidence-based approach is needed to effectively tackle the crime problem in the region. The two-day Symposium is being held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, from 17-18 April 2023.
“The Caribbean has a proud track record of solving and mitigating major public health issues through robust, evidence-guided intervention programmes. We had to deal with AIDS and HIV, not as individual countries, but we dealt with it as a region with evidence-based approaches, and we had success. We are also dealing with NCDs (non-communicable diseases), and we are dealing with that issue from an evidence-based perspective. And today, we are taking that bold step, and that is why I am optimistic because we have seen the evidence, and we are willing to put the political will, using that evidence, to solve violence from a public health perspective,” said Prime Minister Dr Drew.
Prime Minister Dr Drew serves as the Minister of National Security and Health in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis and as CARICOM’s Lead Head with responsibility for Human Resource Development, Health & HIV/AIDS.
The Prime Minister reminded the gathering of the far-reaching effects of crime and violence and their associated impact on economies.
He said, “Public health and security experts can produce maps of violence hotspots. They know the demographics and geographics of clusters. There are graphs of incidence versus time which depict a series of epidemiological curves. Therefore, the violence challenge in the Caribbean appears to be well characterized as a public health issue with ominous social and economic implications. Neither good health nor development is possible in a climate of violence.”
“I regard this Regional Symposium, therefore, as a coalition of the willing. Notwithstanding the delays because of a pandemic, there is a window of opportunity to move the needle now to solutions. Our people must see and must feel solutions now,” Dr. Drew said.
Prime Minister Dr Drew ended his presentation at the Regional Symposium with a quote from Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari that says “If the political will is there, we can solve anything.”
The Honourable Dr Terrance Drew added, “From today’s presentations by the Heads of Government, the interactions and the erudite presentations they would have made tell me that the political will is there.”
During the symposium, participants will hear the experiences and perspectives of technical experts in crime prevention and public health. Participants will also seek to identify priority actions and an action plan for a public health response.