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Three-day regional seminar to combat NCDs in Tonga

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 28/08/2019

The government of Japan is currently hosting a three -day regional seminar in Nuku’alofa on innovative ways and ideas to help combat Non-Communicable Diseases or NCDs.

28 JICA volunteers and their respective counterparts fighting against NCDs in six Pacific countries are participating to learn practical measures to combat NCDs.

In his remarks, Japan’s Ambassador to Tonga H.E Tetsuya Ishii highlighted the importance of knowing the cause of NCDs whether it’s social or economic factor in order to address the issue.

“This training is very significant because many frontiers such as yourselves in the Pacific region working on this issue and it is important that you could gather together to share your experience and knowledge. I sincerely wish that all of you could further enhance your training through the exchanges of opinions and information which are significant for the direction of your future activities. It is my hope that it will be possible for all of you to discover some new ideas through your discussions even though the situation of each country and visions are different.”

Tetsuya Ishii hopes that as Tonga marks its 50th year of diplomatic relationship with Japan next year which coincides with the 2020 Olympics, that it will be a great opportunity to further promote healthy and active lifestyle in Tonga.

Meanwhile, Health Director Dr Siale ‘Akauola talked about the current situation of NCDs in Tonga which has been a major challenge and threat to the country’s social development and economic sustainability.

“For Tonga, it causes four out of every five top causes of death is due to diabetes. It contributes to most of the morbidity, the disability, and of course, mortality or death. This leads to a loss of precious resources, and it cuts the productivity of the population due to early death. Together with other Pacific islands, we are amongst the top 10 of such indicators as most obese nations in the world –   highest prevalence of diabetes”.

Dr ‘Akauola also elaborated on why healthy choices have to be easy choices in order to protect future generations from NCDs.

“What is happening to our children, the babies, the mothers? When they are born, are they being breastfed or are they exposed to substituted milk that are not healthy? Whether they grow up within schools that advocates good nutrition and physical activities. They are fed with the knowledge what they can do to prevent them from getting NCD’s when they grow up and become adults. We are all here together to fight this challenge and hopefully, will not overwhelm our future generation.”

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), such as heart attacks, stroke, cancers, asthma and diabetes, are estimated to account for 83 % of all deaths in Tonga.

NCDs is a common vital issue among Pacific island countries and areas which have a very high prevalence of obesity with adult prevalence as high as 75%.

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