PRESIDENT Ratu Epeli Nailatikau believes one of the best ways to control the growing non-communicable diseases concerns in Fiji is to put into place legislative or policy framework that would not only best serve our development purposes, but also safeguard or protect our health and that of our children.
"I definitely agree that legislation is one of the best ways to address public health issues, and HIV & AIDS and tobacco control has shown us the example. A lot of progress has been made since the enactment of the HIV & AIDS and the Tobacco Control decrees in Fiji," Ratu Epeli said.
"The access to treatment and confidentiality for people living with HIV has been progressing well. I am told that the rate of smoking in Fiji is now decreasing as a result of the enforcement of the Tobacco Decree and the increase of the tobacco tax.
"I believe these fiscal and legislative measures are effective in ensuring behaviour change at individual level but also changes at organisational level. I would challenge you to take heed of what we have learned from HIV/AIDS and Tobacco Control and transfer these to NCD actions as well."
Ratu Epeli said policies and legislative measures that would amply protect the greatest resource we had — the people and their health — must be put into place.
"Without a healthy and a productive population, our economic vision and our aspirations cannot be realised."
Ratu Epeli made these comments at the opening of the NCD and Law workshop yesterday.
The two-day meet continues at the Holiday Inn in Suva today.