NCDs pose economic peril

March 26, 2024 12:35 pm

[File Photo]

Permanent Secretary for Trade Shaheen Ali has stressed the crucial link between addressing Non-Communicable diseases and ensuring economic prosperity, saying that this connection cannot be ignored.

Ali says that the young population is increasingly affected by NCDs, which threaten economic productivity.

He says that the prevalence of NCDs among the younger population could significantly harm the economy, which highlights the urgent necessity for a national food policy to combat this concerning trend.

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The Permanent Secretary says NCDs silently undermine economic progress.

“NCDs are affecting a younger and younger population and this coupled with the current migration of skills can have a serious and detrimental impact on our workforce, on our productivity so it is very important that we address apart from skill migration we address the issues surrounding NCDs so that we have a healthy and productive workshop.”

Ali says the associated risks of NCDs for national productivity are massive.

“The economic cost is not just loss of working hours but in terms of medical bills, loss of skills through premature mortality and also absenteeism that is also quite prevalent.”

He says researchers are evaluating the current economic impact of NCDs, which incurred healthcare costs of $591 million for Fiji in 2019.

“There’s a number of research institutes here that will determine what is the national cost of NCDs, internationally as you’ve heard it’s in trillions and trillions of dollars.”

Ali says that implementing a new food policy is imperative to tackle the influx of unhealthy foods into Fiji and promote healthier alternatives, stressing that a healthy economy relies on a healthy population to drive its success.