7 Apr 2016

Bleak outlook for Pacific on World Health Day

4:14 pm on 7 April 2016
Obesity.

Photo: 123rf

Today is World Health Day but figures show between 30 and 50 percent of people in the Pacific have diabetes.

The focus of World Health Day this year is Beat Diabetes with emphasis on scaling up prevention, strengthening care and enhancing surveillance.

The Director-General of the Pacific Community Colin Tukuitonga said diabetes rates in the region continue to climb at an alarming rate and a multi-dimensional approach is needed if there is to be any hope of slowing let alone stopping the trend.

"Just telling people not to drink too many soft drinks is not all that effective whereas we do know from experience around the world that if you increase the tax on soft drinks consumption goes down. So really what is needed is a combination of individual education and information but also systemic policy type interventions."

SPC Director-General Colin Tukuitonga said the region has some of the highest non-communicable disease rates in the world.

Mr Tukuitonga said surveillance and prevention are the best approach for the Pacific because the cost of caring for people with diabetes is prohibitive for struggling health systems.

Diabetics must monitor their blood sugar levels frequently.

Diabetics must monitor their blood sugar levels frequently. Photo: AFP