The Pacific Islands Forum’s Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism has recommended that Forum Leaders reinvigorate their commitment to addressing non-communicable diseases in the region, with a specific focus on childhood obesity.
The Sub-Committee’s Report recognised that while some progress is being made to reduce and manage the burden of NCDs, childhood obesity rates continue to increase, and without further attention to address the problem, further negative impacts on families, communities and economic development across the region is inevitable.
Recent statistics from the World Health Organisation show that at least 20% of children and adolescents aged 5-19 years were obese in 10 of the Forum’s 18 members.
“Building a Strong Pacific is the theme for this year’s Leaders Forum but that will be very difficult to do without dedicated regional action to fight childhood obesity. The Sub-Committee feel there is a need for action from the region’s leadership to address this.” said Dame Meg Taylor, Chair of the Sub-Committee and Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
“NCDs are devastating to the Pacific in many ways, but childhood obesity is one of the most formidable challenges our region faces. This call for action reflects our common commitment towards improving the health of Pacific youth and ensuring they are able fulfill their full potential,” said Dr. Colin Tukuitonga, Director General of the Pacific Community (SPC) who were involved in the report as the lead regional agency working on NCDs.
Besides childhood obesity, the Sub-Committee’s Report highlighted the need for a more concerted approach to regional advocacy around ocean governance and management, particularly with respect to the management of high seas and maritime zones.
A range of other issues were raised through the consultations with many aligned to current Forum priorities – including climate change, fisheries, security, and economic development.
The Report was informed by public submissions and regional policy consultations in 15 countries carried out by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat between November 2017 and March 2018.
Since 2015, the Specialist Sub-Committee on Regionalism provide a report highlighting opportunities for collective regional action to the Pacific Islands Forum Officials Committee ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting and the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting.
Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers meet tomorrow in Samoa. Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meet in Nauru between 3 – 6 September.