HEALTH and education are important pillars of socio-economic growth and development in any country.
And the high incidence of non-communicable diseases in Fiji is of serious concern when taken in the context of productivity and the general well-being of society.
This was the view of Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma while speaking at the World Hindu Economic Forum in Nadi on Saturday.
"In order to achieve prosperity, one needs to be healthy," Dr Sharma said.
"In Fiji the incidence of NCDs is a major killer.
"80 per cent of the deaths in Fiji are linked to one of the NCDs."
Dr Sharma encouraged local Hindu businessmen and women to advocate for healthier eating and living as a means to combat the NCD epidemic.
"This possibly can be assisted and even redressed if we advocate our vegetarian lifestyle approaches in Hinduism.
"The sanctity of lifestyle in exercise, massage, yoga and meditation and our belief systems in abstinence of alcohol and yaqona and in oneness of mankind, possibly, may address some of our health iniquities in Fiji."
The World Hindu Economic Forum was established last year to promote the establishment of enterprises and to encourage entrepreneurship globally.
The forum is also focused on developing solutions to sustainable development, education, eradication of poverty, climate change and infrastructure development.