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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Health in Pacific Islands in big trouble: recent research findings

The way Pacific Islanders are living is causing them to die early according to new research.

Dr Colin Tukuitonga is about to release his research which shows three-out-of-four deaths in the Pacific are due to non communicable diseases while early deaths are mostly brought on by unhealthy living.

Heart disease is the major cause of death in the region. In fact the bulk of all diseases and injury in the Pacific are self inflicted - caused by smoking, unhealthy diets, lack of exercise and alcohol abuse.

The region is grappling to deal with the problem and Tukuitonga's research shows several countries are not even able to provide basic life saving services on a regular basis.

The region's health ministers are meeting in Vanuatu to look at ways to save lives.

One option is for the region to buy drugs and equipment in bulk to save money. And aid agencies are being asked to think harder about where they put their cash.

New Zealand puts NZD$156 million into the Pacific every year. However, only less than $20 million goes directly into health but this may now change.

That will depend on whether Pacific nations want to work together. The upcoming meeting is critical and there is a degree of nervousness within the small island states that the "regional approach" may in fact take away their ability to do the things their way.

But the hope is that Pacific governments realise it is also about giving their people a chance at life.

Source: TVNZ

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