Editorial comment – Some pointers

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Picture: https://pibindia.wordpress.com/

On this day last year, we learnt that over 80 per cent of mortality in Fiji was attributed to non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The Minister for Health and Medical Services at the time, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete highlighted the figure during a Wellness and NCD consultation workshop in Suva.

Risk factors for NCDs, he reiterated, remained crucial for interventions at all levels.

According to Fiji STEPS survey in 2011, overweight or obese people were 66.9 per cent.

The survey, he said, showed that 16.6 per cent of people smoked daily and 31 per cent of Fijians had high blood pressure.

Stringent interventions, he said, were needed to address issues around physical activity, diet, smoking/alcohol abuse, injuries and drowning.

We are reminded about what the World Health Organization says about NCDs.

They kill 41 million people each year, which is equivalent to 71 per cent of all deaths globally.On its website, it states each year more than 15 million people die from a NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years.

It revealed that 85 per cent of these ‘premature’ deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries and 77 per cent of all NCD deaths are in low-and middle-income countries.

The biggest killer was cardiovascular disease which accounts for most NCD deaths, or 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers (9.3 million), respiratory diseases (4.1 million), and diabetes (1.5 million).

Detection, screening and treatment of NCDs, as well as palliative care, are key components of the response to NCDs.And an important way to control NCDs is to reduce risk factors associated with the diseases.

On January 18 this year, the UN noted that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) were among countries that had the highest prevalence of NCDs and mental health risks in the world.

We learn that the WHO pledged to help save and improve lives following a two-day meeting in Barbados.

Over half of all people living in small island countries, we learn, are dying prematurely from preventable diseases and the rate of hypertension is over 30 per cent in nearly all countries, according to a new WHO data portal. SIDS, we learn, account for 10 of the nations with the highest rates of obesity worldwide.

We learn that the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with poverty, unemployment, inequality and the marginalisation of minority communities, were fuelling an increase in NCDs and mental health conditions.

We learn that every minute, 28 lives between the ages of 30 and 70 are cut short because countries have not taken policy, legislative and regulatory measures to respond to the needs of people living with or at risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, or mental health conditions, including preventive, curative, palliative, and specialised care.

Twenty-five out of 28 lives lost each minute occur in low- and middle-income countries where the social, economic, and physical environments afford populations much lower levels of protection from the risks and consequences of NCDs than in high-income countries, including protection from tobacco use, the harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets, physical activity, and air pollution.Lest we forget, we have a very important role to play in the fight against NCDs right here at home.

That should start with lifestyle changes.So let’s embrace diet considerations and physical activities.Let’s remind ourselves about these and why we should be vigilant when it comes to fighting NCDs.

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