NOUMEA, New Caledonia– In their newly released communiqué, Pacific Islands Forum leaders have committed to support the Non-Communicable Diseases Partnership to be launched at the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa, on Sept. 1–4.
Non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, are a huge burden for Pacific Island countries and territories. Without action, disease rates will keep increasing. During the Forum meeting, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, informed leaders of the worsening situation and stressed that while there may be high levels of political will and commitment, more needs to be done.
Tukuitonga highlighted the findings of the recent Pacific NCD Roadmap Report (2014) showing that in many Pacific Island countries and territories, the costs of treating NCDs take up more than 50 percent of the total health budget.
In one Pacific Island country, treating one diabetic patient is equal to the average cost of treating 76 other people. Only 1.3 percent of the population can be treated with insulin before the total annual drug budget is exhausted. In another country, dialysis to treat kidney failure cost just under $40,000 per patient per year in 2010–2011, or more than 12 times the Gross National Income per capita. Disability resulting from NCDs, including amputation and blindness, affects the productive members of Pacific communities, contributes to poverty and strains national budgets, taking a toll on individuals, families and economies.
The good news is the burden can be reduced with immediate and urgent action by governments and communities and the much needed support of development partners.
To reinforce these and other actions to reduce the prevalence of NCDs and contain present numbers, SPC is leading an initiative called the Pacific Partnership for a Multi-Sector Approach to Prevent and Control NCDs—in short, the Pacific NCD Partnership. The virtual and voluntary partnership will support a collaborative approach by partners toward implementing multi-sector action against NCDs, guided by the policy directives of the Pacific NCD Roadmap and the decisions taken by Pacific Ministers of Economics and Health. National NCD Roadmaps with national targets, once developed, will also provide guidance for partner support at country level.
This new partnership reflects SPC’s commitment to the people of Pacific SIDS and to the principle that “without health, there is no wealth, no development.” (SPC)