17 Sep 2011

Threat from lifestyle diseases impacting on Pacific economic development

5:15 am on 17 September 2011

International agencies say economic development is being undermined as an epidemic of lifestyle diseases reaches crisis levels in the Pacific.

A statement from the World Health Organisation and Secretariat of the Pacific Community following the recent Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit says the growing burden on health systems is having a devastating social and economic impact.

Jenny Meyer reports:

"WHO data show three out of every four deaths in the region are from non communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart failure and cancer. The statement says high levels of slow, painful and premature deaths require an urgent and comprehensive response. The Forum leaders say decisive action is needed to address the NCD crisis as the Pacific has some of the highest rates of these diseases in the world. They have committed to fast-tracking five key actions proven to reduce NCDs, including tobacco control, reducing dietary salt, fats and sugar, and boosting physical activity. Reducing alcohol intake, and improving access to essential drugs and medical technologies are also key targets."