Dr Lalabalavu urges multi-sectoral action to combat NCDs

March 25, 2024 12:52 pm

Non-Communicable Diseases inflict the heaviest disease burden at the present time on our communities and our health system.

It includes serious implications on our physical, social and economic wellbeing in the immediate and long term.

Minister for Health and Medical Services Doctor Atonio Lalabalavu, highlighted this at the Fiji Food Policy workshop this morning in Suva.

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Dr. Lalabalavu says the risk factors for NCDs in Fiji are significant and include the high prevalence of overweight and elevated blood sugar and blood pressure levels in our communities, the insufficient daily consumption of healthy food options in fruit and vegetables and the presence of a significant percentage of daily smokers.

He says health statistics show that over 80 per cent of Fiji’s annual mortality is attributed to NCDs, with heart disease and diabetes emerging as major contributors to death statistics.

The Minister says this trend affects not only the elderly but also younger Fijians in their 20s and 30s, resulting in fatalities from heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and diabetes.

Dr. Lalabalavu says that despite Fiji’s comparatively small population, the nation is now a world leader in diabetes prevalence and deaths which should be a concern for everyone.

“The burden of NCDs transcends health implications, posing a significant barrier to development and economic growth. The intersection between national policies on development, trade, social protection, international cooperation, to name a few, and population health needs closure, scrutiny, and readjustments towards protecting the health of our people.”

Dr. Lalabalavu says to address Fiji’s dire NCD situation, a multi-faceted approach is crucial, guided by a defined purpose and innovative strategies spanning various sectors to effectively tackle these issues.

He says transformative policies, multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder engagement and coordination, targeted and increased investment in promoting food and health security best practices, and improved data collection and analysis are integral parts of addressing NCDs in the country.

The Minister stresses that well-informed, high-level policies on the risk factors of NCDs will ensure that we are taking control of the crisis at hand rather than allowing the unfettered presence of NCD risk factors to determine our destiny.