Health

Non-communicable diseases pose economic threat to Pacific Islands

Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease have emerged as top killers in the region

 
By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 21 June 2016

A World Bank report shows the economic threat that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pose to the Pacific Islands. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease have emerged as top killers in the region.

The draft report, Pacific Possible: Health and Non-Communicable Diseases, was released for public comments in the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa recently.

It says that the economic burden of NCDs continues to rise in the Pacific and points out that if no action is taken, the economic loss due to NCD mortality across 11 Pacific Island countries will reach between 8.5 and 14.3 per cent of gross domestic product by 2040.

“NCDs are a major public health issue in the Pacific region. Their economic burden is much greater in the Pacific Island countries than the global average,” report lead author and World Bank senior health economist Xiaohui Hou said.

Source: WHO

Graph shows estimated percentage of total deaths caused by NCDs

Credit: WHO

“The number of Pacific Islanders affected by these conditions will continue to rise unless we work together to reduce unhealthy habits and ensure limited health resources are delivering the most value for the greatest number of people.”

The report also raises concerns over the long-term financial sustainability of public health expenditures in the region.

Pacific countries spend a greater share of government funds on healthcare than the average across lower-middle incomes countries worldwide.

Recommendations

The report includes a number of recommendations that Pacific Island governments can consider to help inform public health policies aimed at reducing NCDs, which directly cause up to 77 per cent of deaths in the Pacific.

Potential target policy areas suggested in the report include increasing duties on tobacco products and sugar-sweetened drinks, countering aggressive confectionary marketing, which is often targeted at children, more efficient use of health funds for programmes aimed at preventing NCDs, quality health data to help inform better policy decisions and active implementation of the Non-Communicable Diseases Roadmap in the Pacific.

“While a number of Pacific Island countries are working hard to address the health issues leading to obesity, heart conditions and diabetes, clearly much more needs to be done,” said Public Health Division Director at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Paula Vivili.

A World Bank report shows the economic threat that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pose to the Pacific Islands. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease have emerged as top killers in the region.

The draft report, Pacific Possible: Health and Non-Communicable Diseases, was released for public comments in the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa recently.

It says that the economic burden of NCDs continues to rise in the Pacific and points out that if no action is taken, the economic loss due to NCD mortality across 11 Pacific Island countries will reach between 8.5 and 14.3 per cent of gross domestic product by 2040.

“NCDs are a major public health issue in the Pacific region. Their economic burden is much greater in the Pacific Island countries than the global average,” report lead author and World Bank senior health economist Xiaohui Hou said.

“The number of Pacific Islanders affected by these conditions will continue to rise unless we work together to reduce unhealthy habits and ensure limited health resources are delivering the most value for the greatest number of people.”

The report also raises concerns over the long-term financial sustainability of public health expenditures in the region.

Pacific countries spend a greater share of government funds on healthcare than the average across lower-middle incomes countries worldwide.

Recommendations

The report includes a number of recommendations that Pacific Island governments can consider to help inform public health policies aimed at reducing NCDs, which directly cause up to 77 per cent of deaths in the Pacific.

Potential target policy areas suggested in the report include increasing duties on tobacco products and sugar-sweetened drinks, countering aggressive confectionary marketing, which is often targeted at children, more efficient use of health funds for programmes aimed at preventing NCDs, quality health data to help inform better policy decisions and active implementation of the Non-Communicable Diseases Roadmap in the Pacific.

“While a number of Pacific Island countries are working hard to address the health issues leading to obesity, heart conditions and diabetes, clearly much more needs to be done,” said Public Health Division Director at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Paula Vivili.

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