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Fiji Time: 11:48 PM on Friday 22 August

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NCDs threat

Mary Rauto
Thursday, April 07, 2011

THE economic impact of non-communicable diseases goes beyond the costs to health services.

Finance permanent secretary Filimone Waqabaca said the increasing burden of NCDs threatened to overwhelm the already overstretched health services as it absorbed substantial amounts of resources.

"Indirect costs, such as lost productivity, can match or exceed the direct costs," he said.

"A significant proportion of the total cost of care falls on patients and their families.

"Because NCDs are underappreciated as a development issue and underestimated as a disease with profound economic effects, many governments take little interest in their prevention and control.

"NCDs have not received the priority attention in public health policies and programmes commensurate with their disease burden."

Mr Waqabaca said Government tried to adequately provide funding to address NCDs.

"In 2003, the budget allocation for NCD prevention programmes used to be a mere $35,000," he said.

"Now, Government allocates $400,000 annually in the national budget towards this purpose."

Mr Waqabaca said NCDs warranted undivided attention from society.

He said risk factors like poor nutrition, physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol abuse, determined the diseases of tomorrow.

"The increased consumption of local traditional foods should be encouraged as they are healthier and cheaper compared to processed ones that are high in fat and sugar from supermarket shelves," he said.

"The lack of physical activity in this era is mainly the result of change of lifestyle to a western one that is increasingly enhanced by improved technology that has made life for most quite sedentary.

"At individual levels, the mind-set of careless attitude towards health needs to be addressed so that early detection should be expedited and treatment to prevent complications is complied with."

"I cannot overemphasise the importance of aggressively addressing the risk factors in a way never done before and the Ministry of Health looks to individual, organisation, community and the nation to stand up to the call now and save our population of today and generation of tomorrow."


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