THE increase in cases of non-communicable diseases is not unique to Fiji but is a challenge in all Pacific island countries, says Health Minister Doctor Neil Sharma.
Dr Sharma said the ministry would continue to play its part in encouraging people to take part in physical activities and to maintain healthy living standards as a preventative measure for fighting against NCDs.
He said they would continue to stress to people at the grassroots level about the important role they could play in ensuring they were not prone to NCDs.
"We will be engaging our awareness teams to encourage people to eat their local produce more instead of running to shops for an easy way of acquiring food for their daily consumption," Dr Sharma said.
"We continue to work closely with food manufacturers, tobacco and alcohol industries in making people aware of the ills of such produce to their health by means of warning labels on the products.
"We continue to encourage the communities at large that they can take the first step to ensure they do not contract NCDs by maintaining a healthy lifestyle."
Dr Sharma said the ministry was strengthening its health delivery system by developing a wellness concept.
"We are also activating all our departments within the ministry to work closely with the communities in combating NCDs so that we have a structured manner in how to approach this issue," he said.
According to the ministry's 2011 figures, Fiji recorded a total of almost 3500 NCD-related deaths compared to 3000 recorded in 2010.