Non-communicable diseases are a significant problem facing Pacific people and a gathering of private sector representatives from across the region this week will look at the important role that business can play in addressing the issue.
Participants represent 14 Pacific Islands Forum members – Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Nauru, Niue, New Zealand, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
NCDs account for 70 per cent of all deaths in the Pacific before the age of 60, considered “premature deaths”. The 2014 Pacific NCDs Roadmap Report, prepared for Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, says that NCDs also create a heavy burden of disability on individuals and families through strokes, diabetes (blindness and amputations) and kidney diseases.
The report identified three main arguments why the Pacific was facing a NCDs crisis – health, economic and a political argument. The health argument speaks of costs that the effects of NCDs places on a usually already overstretched national budget.
“The Pacific Cooperation Foundation is supporting the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation to have this meeting in recognition of the crucial role our workforces play in the development and progress of the private sector in our island economies,” PCF Chief Executive Officer Craig Strong said.
Speaking about the meeting from Apia, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Meg Taylor DBE said that while Forum Leaders have demonstrated strong leadership in calling for a concerted effort against NCDs, it was critical to bring into the conversation an informed perspective and an effective contribution from the private sector.
“The private sector comprises both manufacturers and retailers. Pacific leaders and their Governments need complementary effective action from this group of stakeholders to ensure a holistic approach as opposed to our tendency to react to the manifestations of NCDs,” Dame Meg said.
“This meeting will focus on solution-oriented discussions to ascertain issues are most important from the private sector perspective. To ensure thriving economies, which will drive our Blue Pacific development we need a robust and healthy workforce.”
The gathering will also hear country experiences. The first session on “Non-Communicable Diseases – why is it not just a health issue” will lend to a formal statement on NCDs from the private sector to the Pacific Forum Leaders in Nauru in September.
The meeting will also have sessions covering Accessibility of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Finance and the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus Agreement.
The 2018 Private Sector Dialogue Preparatory Meeting is a collaborative initiative between the Forum Secretariat and the PCF, with support from the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation.