21 Jun 2016

Pacific nutrition statistics "distressing"

6:45 pm on 21 June 2016

The head of the United Nations Development Programme, Helen Clark, says Pacific statistics in a global nutrition report distressing.

Ms Clark was in Tonga on Monday attending the Pacific's first regional summit addressing non-communicable diseases.

Up to 75 per cent of deaths in the region are related to NCDs and statistics from a new report show most of the region will fail to reach global nutrition targets set for 2025.

Ms Clark said she believed that could be changed, but governments needed to be more engaged with their communities.

She said good health policies exist, but better implementation was needed.

"This is very complex and you have to involve communities. You have to involve the religious leaders. You have to involve the local groups which relate to the needs of local people. So it's more than government. Governments need to do the right things but communities have to be engaged and empowered.

Helen Clark at the United Nations in New York, United States of America.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson