A significant percentage of the health budget should be directed towards preventing non-communicable diseases and not treating it says UNICEF Pacific Representative Jonathan Veitch.
Veitch says Fiji and other Pacific countries are spending more money on treating these chronic diseases.
He says that addressing the health issues in the country will be among the key areas that UNICEF Pacific will focus on over the next five years.
“Your government and the other governments in the Pacific are spending around 50 percent of their health budgets on the treatment of NCDs when we should be focusing on prevention. “It’s much cheaper to prevent than to treat it after the event.”
Veitch says obesity and underweight are the major areas of concern.
“We really looking at health system strengthening, that’s something that we help governments with, and we look at the primary level and the tertiary level, so we are not looking at the treatment of NCDs so much but we are looking at the health of mothers, pregnant mothers, and we are looking at the first 1000 days, the most important period of a child’s life, and if you get that right, they are likely to be fit and healthy for the rest of their lives.”
A 2022 Report on Malnutrition in the Pacific states that dietary behaviors are influenced by increasingly unhealthy food environments.
The report further suggested the need for Fiji to strengthen its policies on breastfeeding promotion, school feeding and food environments.