11 Feb 2013

Pacific trade and health workshop to be held in Fiji

5:10 am on 11 February 2013

The link between trade policy and non-communicable diseases in Pacific Island countries is the focus of a workshop in Fiji that starts today.

Representatives of Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are attending the four-day meeting, whose organisers include the United Nations Development Programme.

The UNDP's Pacific Poverty Reduction and MDGs team leader says the workshop is the first to look at the links between trade and health.

Ahmed Moustafa says most developing countries lack the capacity to negotiate free trade agreements that take into account a rising incidence of non-communicable diseases.

"Available data and recent studies here in the Pacific link obesity, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes to imported food with very low and dubious nutritional value - mainly cheap processed food imports."

Ahmed Moustafa says taxing such products is a proven way of helping people become healthier.