Leaders walk the talk to promote healthy lifestyles

Photo caption: Dr Colin Tukuitonga, SPC Director-General with Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, Tommy Remengesau, President of Palau, and Elbuchel Sadang, Palau Minister of Finance taking an early morning walk during the Forum.

Thursday 14 August, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Noumea, New Caledonia – It was a case of leading by example at the recent Pacific Islands Forum held in Palau (29 July‒1 August) when most of the leaders participated in early morning walks to promote healthy lifestyles and the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This was an initiative jointly organised by the Office of the President of Palau, who hosted the Forum, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

SPC’s Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, took part in the walks and was very pleased with the participation of the leaders, saying, ‘Leadership is a key factor in addressing NCDs and leadership by example is the best way to show others the way forward.’

The physical activity sessions were part of efforts to continue to highlight NCDs as the main cause of the burden of disease in Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), accounting for up to 75% of all deaths.

The culmination of the efforts at the Forum Leaders’ meeting was the endorsement by leaders of the Pacific NCD Partnership – a collaboration between PICTs and partners to strengthen and coordinate the necessary capacity and expertise to support Pacific small island developing states to significantly promote the prevention and control of NCDs in order to meet the globally agreed NCD targets.

‘Health care alone is not the answer to NCDs. The crisis is a key issue for development in the Pacific and can be addressed only through a multi-sector approach,’ says Dr Tukuitonga.

The endorsement of the Pacific NCD Partnership by Forum leaders builds on the commitment made at the recent first joint meeting in Honiara of Forum Economic Ministers and Pacific Health Ministers when they approved the establishment of a high-level multi-sector mechanism to oversee and drive NCD work in the region.

‘We have real political commitment to a multi-sector approach to addressing NCDs and the Pacific NCD Partnership will be critical in coordinating efforts between and among PICTs and partners,’ concluded Dr Tukuitonga.


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