Prime Minister Drew Addresses Urgency of Tackling Firearm Violence as a Public Health Crisis at 68th Annual Health Research Conference in St. Lucia

PM Dr. Drew addresses the impact of firearm violence on communities.
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St. Lucia – Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew, delivered a compelling address during the 68th Annual Health Research Conference, hosted by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in St. Lucia, on April 25, 2024, highlighting the pressing need to address firearm violence as a critical public health issue in the Caribbean. While there, Prime Minister Drew joined The Hon. Philip J. Pierre, Prime Minister of St. Lucia as part of a panel discussion on Violence in the Caribbean: A Public Health Crisis.

PM Dr. Drew addresses the impact of firearm violence on communities.

In his address, Prime Minister Drew underscored the devastating impact of firearm violence on Caribbean societies, emphasizing its role in fueling crime, exacerbating conflict, and undermining the rule of law. Drawing from his background as a medical practitioner, Dr. Drew expounded on the severe physical and psychological toll inflicted by gun violence, not only on individuals but also on families and communities. Of particular concern, according to Dr. Drew, is the alarming trend of increasing firearm injuries among young children and adolescents, which threatens the safety and well-being of future generations. “Urgent action is needed to address the root causes of gun violence and to implement evidence-based strategies aimed at prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation,” the Prime Minister stressed.

Dr. Drew, who also serves as the current head of the Council of National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), used the opportunity to commend CARPHA for utilizing the platform of the Annual Health Research Conference to promote research on the public health approach to crime and violence. He highlighted the importance of regional collaboration and data-driven interventions in tackling firearm violence effectively.

Furthermore, Dr. Drew reiterated the commitment of CARICOM Heads of Government to address violence as a public health issue, as evidenced by the recent discussions and declarations focusing on a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach.  He also emphasized the significance of collaborative efforts, such as the “Pathway to Policy” project, in improving data quality and guiding policy interventions.

The panel discussion at the conference brought together perspectives from the security, public health, and research sectors to explore initiatives and research aimed at combating firearm-related violence in the Caribbean.

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