Antigua warns of the threat of trans-national crimeListen /
NARRATOR: Transnational crime is threatening the very existence of peace in Antigua and Barbuda. Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer told the UN General Assembly that the twin-Island State's size, lack of human and financial resources makes it difficult for it, as a small island nation to address this impediment in an effective manner.
TAPE: The crime and violence fuelled by the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons is jeopardizing our major industries such as tourism; our healthcare systems are weighted down and families are being torn apart. Nevertheless, crime prevention and small arms control is a priority for my government. It is important to note that Antigua and Barbuda nor our CARICOM brothers and sisters manufacture small arms and light weapons, yet one recent estimate indicates that there are 1.6 million illegal firearms in the region.
Additionally, Antigua and Barbuda is deeply saddened that despite significant efforts, strong will on the part of the majority of States and the fact that a compromise was potentially within reach, that there was no agreement on a text for the just concluded legally binding Arms Trade Treaty. Mr. President, be assured, that Antigua and Barbuda will not give up and we will continue to advocate for a legally binding treaty that will eliminate the threat that is crippling our region.
NARRATOR: According to Prime Minister Spencer, Antigua and Barbuda faces many challenges in the prevention, care and treatment of Non- Communicable Diseases or NCDs. He said heart disease, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory diseases continue to be the leading causes of death in Antigua and Barbuda with cancer and heart disease being the top two leading causes:
TAPE: The cost burden; loss of production, and disabilities as a result of chronic diseases continue to weigh heavy on our health care system since treatment for these diseases and their complications such as dialysis, chemotherapy, and drug therapy continue to be offered free of cost to patients. ‘The fight against NCD's therefore remains high on Antigua and Barbuda’s health agenda. Following our participation in the United Nations High Level Meeting last year, the government of’ Antigua and Barbuda approved the establishment of a multi-sectoral: NCD Commission to provide leadership in this critical area, drafted legislation for tobacco control, engaged civil society and NGOs in drafting an NCD Policy and Action Plan and has supported plans for the development of a comprehensive Cancer Treatment Center in Antigua and Barbuda. The Ministries of Health and Agriculture continue to collaborate in the development of a-Food Policy that will address some of the risk factors for NCDs. The fight with HIV AIDS in my region is also real -the figures are heartbreaking and the outlook is troubling.
NARRATOR: Prime Minister Spencer said that despite some progress, much still needs to be done to achieve goal of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, support and care.
This is Donn Bobb reporting.