Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes and heart disease, are thought to be responsible for 75 per cent of all deaths in the Pacific region. This toll, which has grown rapidly in recent years, has led Pacific Island countries and territories to move the issue to the top of their agendas.
SPC is supporting governments in combating NCDs by helping them develop and implement national NCD policies, as well as by jointly leading (in co-operation with the World Health Organisation) the implementation of a regional NCD framework. This support has included over $15 million in grants over the last three years to governments and community organisations.
NCDs have grown quickly in the Pacific as people have moved away from traditional ways of life, including traditional diets. SPC is helping governments take on this problem and tackle food security at the same time by increasing and diversifying the supply of locally produced food, including through support for aquaculture and small-scale fishing, encouragement and help for youth in agriculture, and support to local businesses producing and selling food products made from local crops.
It also published 19 leaflets on Pacific Island foods containing practical information on how to prepare and store the foods, nutritional information, and recipes.
Another approach SPC and governments are taking in partnership is an effort to influence behaviours and help people make healthy choices in areas such as smoking, physical activity and diets.