Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and Vice-Chancellor of
The University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles,
is laying the blame of the widespread prevalence of chronic
non-communicable diseases in this region squarely at the feet of the
former European colonisers.
Speaking yesterday morning during an online session hosted by the
Reparatory Commission, along with UWI TV, titled ‘From Apology to
Action: CARICOM’s Call for Reparatory Justice’, Sir Hilary said,
“Britain left behind a pandemic of chronic diseases” in this region.
“The hypertension, the diabetic pandemic collectively has constituted
a threat to the existence of Caribbean societies. Over 60 per cent of
all of the people in the Caribbean today over the age of 60 have
either hypertension or diabetes or both,” he said.
He added, “The Caribbean is the diabetic hypertensive centre of the
world. Barbados and Jamaica constitute the amputation capital of the
world, as a result of complications arising from diabetes. More
amputations are committed in the Caribbean per capita than any other
part of the world. This is because for 300 years the people of this
region were forced to consume a diet based on what they produced –
Sir Hilary – a noted historian – explained that in the Caribbean sugar
was consumed not as a sweetener, but as a meal, as a part of the
dietary plan of the enslaved. This, he lamented, has resulted in the
“enormous pandemic” of diabetes that is sweeping through the region.