How Might Small Island Countries get out of the NCD Trap?
MADAM MODERATOR, GUEST SPEAKERS, FELLOW PANELISTS LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are particularly and especially affected by NCDs, with unacceptably high rates of morbidity and mortality. Development challenges like climate change and disasters, and economic instability, only compound the vulnerability of SIDS and prevent overall development gains.
From a health perspective, currently, NCDs account for around 75% of all deaths in the Pacific, including much higher rates of premature (below age 60) deaths in many Pacific countries than the comparable global average. The top 10 countries with the highest overweight and obesity rates in the world are Pacific Island Countries and Territories, in part due to the fact that three of the top ten worst rates of tobacco use in the world are in the Pacific region.
Economically, NCDs impose large – but often preventable – costs on already overstretched Government health budgets, and the economy more broadly. Countries can expect a further rise in the costs of treating NCDs in the coming years given the pipeline of risk factors in the Pacific, and the lack of investment in primary and secondary prevention to date. Overall NCD costs in the Pacific are expected to continue increasing, given the high level of risk factors for NCDs in the region and insufficient investments in primary and secondary prevention strategies to date. In this regard, Samoa reaffirms its support for the World Bank led study on the Economic costs of NCDs.
Pacific Islands Forum Leaders themselves have invested political capital by explicitly declaring the “Pacific is in an NCD Crisis”. Health, Finance and Economic, and Trade Ministers from the Pacific have made similar commitments.
A business as usual approach, combined with the existing high level of risk factors for NCDs, will inevitably lead to deteriorating health and living standards in the Pacific under the watch of current leaders, thereby undermining their political credibility and reputation.
But political leaders who take proactive action now to prevent and control the NCD crisis in the Pacific will significantly contribute to social and economic growth in their countries.
Following the adoption of the SAMOA Pathway in 2014, a multisectoral NCDs Partnership was established as well as the development of a NCD roadmap for the Pacific to be adapted to country context. The focus of a strategic response to the NCD crisis is centred on four key strategies common to all countries in the Pacific:
This NCD Roadmap Report for the Pacific is intended to help ‘operationalise’ – in ways that are affordable and cost-effective – the already agreed frameworks and strategies for responding to NCDs. Because of their applicability and feasibility to all countries in the Pacific, the four strategies
– if adopted – would then also become a coherent regional strategy. Each country can then also choose other interventions from a menu of other options to suit their own country circumstances.
Finally a multi-sectoral approach is essential as multiple factors inside
– and beyond the health sector are driving the rise in NCDs. The social determinants of health need to be addressed. But relying on the health sector alone to reduce the NCD crisis is ineffectual.
Thank you for your attention.