21st June 2016
First Pacific NCD Summit Officially Inaugurated by
King Tupou VI
His Majesty King Tupou VI officially opened the first Pacific NCD Summit yesterday morning at Fa’onelua Convention Centre.
More than 120 high-level delegates from around the region and development partners in attendance including the President of Kiribati HE Taneti Maamau, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and Director General of SPC Colin Tuikuitonga.
The theme of the summit is ‘Translating Global and Regional Commitments into Local Action’ aiming to address the need for more high level political leadership on NCDs and to identify ways forward in addressing the issue.
In His Majesty’s opening address he told the delegates that Tonga has put significant efforts to ensure that NCDs are everyone’s agenda.
“Here in Tonga, I am pleased to state that we have put in significant efforts to ensure that NCDs is kept very much at the forefront of everyone’s agenda,” he said.
“NCDs have been specified as among the government’s priority areas for at least the past 15 years.”
He stated that the current Tonga Strategic Development Framework prioritize NCDs with the backing of strong government leadership.
“The current Tonga Strategic Development Framework continues to prioritize NCDs and government leadership and support continues to be strong.”
“This is reflected by ongoing legislative and policy measures passed through Parliament as recently as a few months ago to help address NCDs related issues such as affordability of unhealthy foods and tobacco products.”
King Tupou VI stressed that Tonga Health Promotion Foundation as well as churches contributed to provide funding and support for NCDs activities.
“The Tonga Health Promotion Foundation continues to provide funding and has recently also taken up the role of Secretariat to NCDs related activities. This will help streamline activities and facilitate collaboration between the different stake holders and partners.”
“I am pleased to share that the churches are also endeavoring to play their part. Many church leaders have shown strong leadership in making often unpopular decisions related to food given it’s an integral part of Tongan social and ceremonial events.”
UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said according to the World Health Organization forty percent of Pacific Islanders have been diagnosed with NCD.
“Forty percent of Pacific Islanders have been diagnosed with an NCD according to WHO in 2010, many before they have reached their fortieth birthday,” she said.
Clark said the support from partners was critical to help governments to prevent and control NCDs.
“Support from partners can be catalytic, and can supplement the capacity of governments themselves to commit domestic resources to NCD prevention and control.”
“Tonga, our host legislated for a Health Promotion Foundation Act nearly a decade ago.”
Director of South Pacific Community Colin Tukuitonga said the Pacific is often referred to as the NCD capital of the world.
“You are all well-aware that the Pacific is often referred as the NCD capital of the world and that we are facing an NCD crisis,” he said.
“We have among the highest prevalence of NCDs and NCD risk factors in the world and feature prominently on a number of ‘Top 10’ lists that we would rather not be on.
“At the end of the day, regardless of what challenges we may be facing as Pacific Islanders, the fact is between six and eight of every 10 deaths in the Pacific is from NCDs.”
The Summit will end on Wednesday and the sessions are run by different key delegates from the Pacific nations.
The event is jointly organized by the Government of Tonga and the Pacific Community (SPC) with support from the Australian Government, New Zealand Aid Programme, Government of the United States, World Bank, World Diabetes Foundation (WDF), World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Courtesy: mic.gov.to and Australia in Tonga (Facebook)
Sports is Fun! Sports is for everyone!
“Celebrating the role sport can play in achieving sustainable progress and change”
April 6, 2014 marked the inaugural International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.
Sport has the power to help develop the potential of individuals, communities and nations. It encourages personal growth, eliminating gender barriers and can build bridges across lines that might otherwise divide. It's intrinsic values such as teamwork, fairness, discipline, respect for the opponent and the rules of the games are understood all over the world can be harnessed in the advancement of solidarity, social cohesion and peaceful coexistence.
Marking the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, TongaHealth coordinated with the Ministry of Internal Affairs to host a “Sports Festival”. This initiative was another step forward towards multi-sectoral partnership and had the Ministry of Health partnering with MIA, supported by the Government of Tonga and Australia, facilitated and coordinated by TongaHealth. Various representatives of the National Sports federation of Tonga, had their own station to demonstrate the basic fundamentals of their sport or modified fun games for people to enjoy. The aftermath of cyclone Zena did not dampen the spirit of the people of Tonga, and the whole event was held indoors in the huge Queen Salote Memorial Hall with demonstrations of various sport activities being held, including- swimming!
Tonga, we're getting fitter everyday....
The Ministry of Internal Affair Sports Division, with funding from Netball Australia under the Pacific Sports Partnership, hosted a two day workshop with community sports focal points, including Tonga Netball at the Fanga hall on Thursday and Friday this week.
The workshop brought together sports associations and organising committees to explore issues around sports promotion, organisation and development.
Representatives from the Ministry of Health and TongaHealth also provided advice on how the presentation, development and delivery of sports program can help address Non-Communicable diseases like obesity.
The $29 million Pacific Sports Partnership Program is Australia’s flagship sport for development program in the Pacific.Through PSP, Australia supports activities to address primary risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases, particularly physical inactivity, and address inequalities experienced by women, girls and people living with disability.
National Strategy For Prevention and Control of
Non-Communicable Diseases Launched
It was with great enthusiasm and words of wisdom that the Prime Minister of Tonga Hon. Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, officially launched the National Strategy for Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases 2015-2020 yesterday. The National Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Strategy is the result of almost a year of multiple sectorial and stakeholder consultations, including international organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
The NCD Strategy is a multiyear strategy funded by the Governments of Tonga and Australia, and other donor partners. The launch included the signing of a five year, A$2.1 million dollar (T$3.2 million) agreement, between Tonga Health and the Government of Australia to support the implementation of Tonga’s National NCD Strategy 2015 – 2020. Australia’s support is part of its A$10 million (T$15.3 million) bilateral support to Tonga’s health sector through the Tonga Health Systems Support Program Phase 2 (THSSP 2)
TongaHealth as the national coordinating body and Secretariat for NCD activities in Tonga, is responsible for ensuring a coordinated and integrated approach in the implementation of the National NCD strategy. Its role will include harmonizing funding streams for NCD prevention, strengthening communication and collaboration among implementing partners and strengthening the monitoring, evaluation and reporting of progress. The introduction of an NCD Secretariat is an innovative first for the Pacific.
As the third phase of Tonga’s National NCD Strategy, this strategy builds on the expertise and knowledge of implementing partners, and global and regional guidelines. It focuses on good practice and feasible actions that address the whole population with a clear emphasis on young people and a healthy start to life.
The launch was attended by Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, the Australian High Commissioner, His Excellency Andrew Ford, the New Zealand High Commissioner, Her Excellency Sara Walsh, members of the National Non-Communicable Diseases Committee (NNCDC), senior and high level Government officials and representatives of implementing partners.
Launch of National Food Authority (NFA)
The Minister for Agriculture, Food, Forests and Fisheries (MAFFF), and Designated National Food Authority, Hon. Semisi Fakahau announced the official launch of the National Food Authority today. We at TongaHealth were honoured to be witness to this new chapter in the nation’s Health and Food policy history.
MAFF is one of the multi-sectoral partners that TongaHealth works with and we are expectant and hopeful of their new multi-sectoral endeavors through NFA. Regulating the manufacture, sale, import and export of food for commercial purposes as well as guaranteeing food safety and fitness for human consumption are top on the Authority’s priority list. TongaHealth has been advocating food policy control for a while now, and we are excited to see some of our valuable stakeholders – Ministry of Health, Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Customs& revenue and the Ministry of Commerce and Labour in the National Food Council of the NFA take charge and surge towards a healthier Tonga.
Mai e Nima Campaign Awards
As part of it's continual support, TongaHealth sponsored the prize distribution ceremony for Mai e Nima, an innovative campaign run as an activity of the Healthy Eating Subcommittee to target primary school students and promote healthy eating within the school compounds. The event was well attended by primary school children from all over Tongatapu, and the guest of honor was the Acting C.E.O. for the Ministry of Eduucation Dr. Raelyn 'Esau. The objective of Mai e Nima is to improve the health and well-being of students by educating them about the benefits of eating a variety of fruit and vegetables in order to establish life-long healthy eating habits.
School children from both the Hahake and Hihifo districts were represented, and their enthusiasm for healthy eating was so apparent, that we at TongaHealth felt rewarded with the efforts put in all through this campaign.