Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Director-General of the Pacific Community, highlights the huge problem of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Pacific and outlines the urgent action required by national-level stakeholders and development partners.
Pacific Island countries and territories are fighting an uphill battle against non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with debilitating impacts claiming up to eight in ten of the regional death toll.
The Pacific Islands are home to 11 Commonwealth nations. Their citizens are dying prematurely from heart disease, cancers, chronic lung diseases and diabetes, more than any other cause or ailment, earning this otherwise idyllic region the title of ‘NCD capital of the world’. The region is the epicentre of obesity, with five Pacific nations ranking among the top 10 globally and seven in the top 20.
In 2015, eight of the top 10 countries and territories identified as having the highest diabetes prevalence in the world were also from the Pacific. As a result, in some Pacific Island countries, diabetes care consumes about 20 per cent of annual government healthcare expenditure, compared with the global average of 12 per cent.
The cost of treating NCDs has overstretched government health budgets and placed a burden on national economies where even the provision of essential services such as adequate access to cholesterol-lowering drugs is not available in many Pacific countries.
Critically, these largely preventable and manageable diseases are striking down the Pacific’s youth and productive populations. These are some clear indicators that we are facing a development crisis in the Pacific…
Dr Colin Tukuitonga
Director-General of the Pacific Community