11 May 2006

Increase in the number of smokers is contributing to the high rate of heart disease

7:43 pm on 11 May 2006

Australian cardiologist Dr Warren Walsh highlights tobacco as a contributing factor to the high rate of heart disease in Samoa.

Dr Walsh who is currently in Samoa on his annual two-week visit commented earlier this week that the rate of heart disease will reach epidemic proportions.

He says the Samoa goverment should follow New Zealand and Australia's lead on tobacco control.

"There's been a big increase in smoking in the Pacific Islands and tobacco control policies need to be strengthened to try and control this. And this is fairly easy to do. Prevention is not all that expensive. Increase taxes on tobacco, do as we do in Australia and New Zealand and ban smoking in bars and restaurants, and this can have a big impact on controlling tobacco use in these countries."

Dr Walsh says the other concern is that there is a lack of resources and funding is going more onto the running of hospitals thaninto preventative programmes.