14 Mar 2005

Pacific Health Ministers to discuss greater regional collaboration

7:30 am on 14 March 2005

Pacific Ministers of Health are to develop ways of strengthening collaboration on regional health issues.

At a meeting in Samoa this week, Ministers will discuss

in particular non-communicable illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.

The regional organisation, the Pacific Community, or SPC, says one issue likely to be discussed is the concern over free trade agreements and their influence on tobacco and alcohol use.

A major paper commissioned by the SPC recommends that regional island countries exclude such as alcohol and tabacco from the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement, in order to leave nations free to maintain high levels of tariff or taxation as a public health measure.