The World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on 7 April, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
As our food supply becomes increasingly globalized, the need to strengthen food safety systems in and between all countries is becoming more and more evident.
World Health Day 2015 is an opportunity to alert people working in different government sectors, farmers, manufacturers, retailers, health practitioners – as well as consumers – about the importance of food safety, and the part each can play in ensuring that everyone can feel confident that the food on their plate is safe to eat.
The Hon. Minister for Health & Medical Services Mr Jone Usamate said “Fijians are increasingly consuming machine based more than land based foods and drinks, moving from organic to chemical based processed foods. More and more Fijians are transiting from organic farms to supermarkets”.
“Recent studies (STEPS 2011) have shown that Fijians are not consuming enough fruits and vegetables daily despite the abundant supply of these health giving foods in the land”.
Factors contributing to the change/lifestyles are that convenience foods are accessible, affordable, available and achievable.
The government through MoHMS are addressing food issues through:
1. Advocate for farming and consumption of fresh local products
2. Reduce taxes on imported Fruits and vegetables to allow easier access and variety
3. Advocate for reduction in salt, sugars and fats in Fijian foods and drinks
4. Front of Pack labelling to allow easier informed choices
5. Review of food legislation to address emerging challenges
The Fijian plate has remained the same but the menu has changed – from organic to chemical.
It has recognised this population transition and all efforts are being made to mitigate in the wake of The NCD crisis.
While the Health Ministry would love Fijians to revert to organic, the truth is that more have moved to supermarkets to source foods.
The Health Ministry is happy to say that the Foods Industry and the Ministry of Industry and Trade are in positive discussions in improving food choices in Fijians through voluntary front of pack labelling. This will enhance informed choices of all Fijians shopping.
“World Health day 2015 has reminded us of the importance of foods that come from farms and advocates that these foods are for Fiji’s foods security through improved food choices”, added Mr Usamate.
In public health nutrition, the Dietitians are taking lead roles in their nutritional programs through:
1. Establishing the Hospital Gardens especially in sub-divisional hospitals. The harvest (cabbage, baigans, pawpaw, bananas, carrots, cucumbers.) are used to supplement supplies from contracted suppliers.
2. Promotion of School Gardens in primary schools…in some cases NFNC helps by providing seeds or (in past years the provision of gardening tools as incentives/prizes for best school gardens during world food day celebrations in designated primary schools.). It (gardening) is also a way of promoting physical activity, socializing with peers and a small start to a small business venture – growing vegies and selling them!
3. Promotion of Home/Backyard gardening for provision of healthy and fresh vegetables, fruits and subsistence crops to families for their own meals, and address malnutrition and other nutritional deficiencies in rural area families.
4. Scheduled cooking demonstrations to women with focus on using backyard garden harvests and/or using local fresh produce in addressing anemia in women and children; over and under nutrition, promoting breastfeeding, and other NCDs in general.
The World Health Day 2015 will be launched Today the 7th of April at Suva SDA Primary School with the focus on consumption of Local foods.
The highlight of the launch is the display of Local food and Participants will also taste it.