Pacific Youth have threat of NCDs pointed out
SPC urgues Pacific youth to adopt healthy eating practices to avoid NCDs later in life.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community is using a youth forum in Samoa to make its case against the dangers of non-communicable diseases.
The forum is being run ahead of the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States starting in Apia on Monday.
The Director-General of the SPC, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, told the youth the Pacific has more obese children than ever before and the region is outpacing the rest of the world in deaths from NCDs.
A spokesperson for the regional body, Mereia Carling, spoke to Don Wiseman, about the work needed to combat the growing NCD threat.
MEREIA CARLING: It is an issue that it does need a greater co-ordinated approach in the region and more investment. We have resources available for HIV and AIDs but actually NCDs is the bigger issue in the region and so we really need to draw attention to the issue. And so when he [Colin Tukuitonga] was talking to young people he was drawing the link between youth and NCDs. The manifestation of NCDs actually comes up later in adult life but the risk factors are present in childhood and adolescence and that is where we need to focus on a preventative approach. So looking at diet, nutrition, and physical activity of young people and really ensure that they lead healthy lifestyles because what starts at childhood eventuates as a possible NCD in adulthood.
DON WISEMAN: Does it register with them given as you say it is something that many of them would associate with a later stage in life and perhaps haven't focussed at all on NCDs at this point?
MC: I think it did. The session that followed our Director-General's discussion with the youth was a role play where they had to go and perform a message, a key message, and one group came back performing a message around NCDs and how to stand up to the advertising that they see, which is advertising sugary carbonated drinks and smoking and how to withstand that so I think it did register to some extent but like all issues, it needs a sustained effort to keep raising awareness and I think that every time it is mentioned it clocks in with young people and we just need to keep doing it more and more.
DW: The SPC, particularly under Dr Colin Tukuitonga, has had this focus on NCDs. Are you beginning to notice with the work you're doing that perhaps this horrific situation in the Pacific where the figures are worse than just about anywhere in the world, that this is starting to improve or is it too early for that?
MC: There is definite improvements. There are definite good practices starting to happen in the region -a national framework for addressing NCDs. As an observer you can see a lot more people are walking, doing exercise, eating more healthfully, so it is definitely an issue that more and more people are conscious about. It needs a lot more and it also needs many stakeholders and many actors to come together because NCDs is not just a health issue - it's about import tax, it's about availability of healthy foods in countries, it's an economic issue, it's an agricultural issue, it's a food security issue, so there are many different sectors that need to do their bit so we just need to scale it up in a very comprehensive way to keep building on the progress that has been made so far.
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