Monitoring and tackling NCD in SI

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DEAR EDITOR, in an article published in Thursday’s edition of the Island Sun this week, Dr Jason Diau, the Chief Executive Officer of the Atoi Adventists Hospital, was quoted as having said non-communicable disease is a heavy burden on the health status of the country’s population.

He went on to add that the issue needs to be seriously considered and quickly addressed with a timely data base detection and a comprehensive treatment plan to prevent premature deaths from NCD’s.

Across the whole Pacific region NCD, principally cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, have become the leading cause of premature death and disability.

In 2011 Pacific Islands Forum leaders and ministers of health declared the Pacific region to be in “a human, social and economic crisis” due to the significant and growing burden of NCDs

The prevalence of NCD risk factors (high obesity, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, elevated fasting blood glucose and hypertension) and the ensuing social and economic impact of premature mortality, morbidity, lost productivity, and escalating health care expenditure poses one of the biggest threats to development across the region.

Some years ago, I read of an independent assessment system for measuring actions to reduce NCDs.

The voluntary alliance had no conditions for membership and then served some 22 Pacific Islands territories and relevant technical partners active in NCD monitoring, drawing them together to better utilise the extensive NCD data-related activity already underway across the region.

The technical partners include: the Pacific Community (SPC); the World Health Organisation (WHO); the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the Pacific Research Centre for Prevention of Obesity and NCDs (C-POND), based at Fiji National University; the Pacific Islands Health Officers’ Association (PIHOA); and several universities.

The Post Declaration progress in NCD monitoring has been significant, with considerable growth in a number of areas. Three examples include: (i) a rise in the number of epidemiology technicians equipped to conduct NCD monitoring activities.

This has been due to Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN)’s newly implemented training and capacity development programme for ‘Strengthening Health Interventions in the Pacific (SHIP)’ which includes several Data for Decision-Making training modules, and the development of an integrated approach to NCD monitoring and policy intervention in the northern Pacific.

It is perhaps timely for a current evaluation of NCD monitoring because, as Dr Diau has said, the Solomon Islands is still greatly at risk from non communicable diseases and it is not too late to begin promoting and encouraging healthier diets to reduce salt, fat, sugar and foods that contribute to obesity and also encouraging healthier lifestyles, including a better focus on daily exercise.

Yours sincerely

FRANK SHORT