TongaHealth presents awards to its grant and sponsorship recipients
The Tonga Health Promotion Foundation, as secretariat of the National NCD Committee and national NCD prevention strategy, presented special awards to its grant and sponsorship recipients from 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial year tomorrow at the Kalofiama ‘o Epworth Hall this morning.
Hon. Losaline Ma’asi, the Minister of Internal Affairs, is also a member of TongaHealth’s Board of Directors was the guest of honor of this event.
As secretariat, TongaHealth is able to strengthen the effectiveness of its grants because it has the mandate to work intensively with partners and donors to develop clear, shared and evidence-formed agreements to underpin the grants process.
The problem of NCDs is at a critical level in Tonga. With an increasing number of Tongans being affected by heart diseases, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking-related illnesses, TongaHealth was established to combat this burden of disease and promote healthy lifestyle changes throughout Tonga.
There are two types of funding streams within TongaHealth that was awarded today. This includes the grant program and the sponsorship program.
The grant program is an agreement between TongaHealth and a Ministry or organization to work towards a targeted goal and purpose relating to the reduction of NCDs. These agreements can exceed upwards of TOP$10,000 or more.
The sponsorship program is designed to encourage healthy lifestyles through effective promotion of health messages relating to TongaHealth’s four main priority areas. Sponsorships are eligible for NGOs, Government departments, statutory bodies, incorporated entities/organizations, recreational or sporting organizations, and village councils/boards with a maximum of TOP $2000.
Recipients who participated in our sponsorship program who were awarded today includes; Ma’a Fafine mo e Fāmili, Maui Fusi Fonua sports, Pharmacy Staff Association, National Diabetes Committee, Malapo Tag, Tonga High School Sports, Tupou Tertiary Sports, Mr Tonga, Kolomaile (‘Eua), Ha’apai High School, Taufa’ahau Pilolevu College, Foefoelua ‘o Ha’apai Veu, Inclusive Education, Ministry of Health (Nurses Fun Run & Walk), and SDA Lose n Live.
Grant recipients includes; Ministry of Health, Ministry of Internal Affairs (Kau Mai Tonga and Fiefia Sports), Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Kiko Penitani, ICON Creative, Mai e 5 and the Fisheries Department and more.
It is hoped that through multi-sectoral partnerships, TongaHealth will effectively demonstrate that teamwork is a powerful way to strengthen NCD prevention and control.
Government officials, partners, and dignitaries were present in the occasion.
TongaHealth thanked its main donors, the Government of Australia through DFAT and the Government of Tonga, for enabling this event.
“Early Detection Saves Lives”“Sivi Vave, Mo’ui Leva” - Launching of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2018
The Tonga Breast Cancer Society, along with the Ministry of Internal Affairs' Women’s Affairs Division, held a morning tea to mark the launching of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month also known as “Pinktober” at the Little Italy Restaurant.
The program was attended by the Princess Royal, HRH Pilolevu Tuita, as the guest of honor. She is also the Patron of the society. Together with working partners, members, women and survivors, they launched Pinktober under the theme, “Early Detection Saves Lives,” “Sivi Vave, Mo’ui Leva”.
Dr. ‘Amelia Afuha’amango stated in the keynote remark that breast cancer is deemed the number one cancer for women in Tonga and its on the rise because women don’t seek regular breast exams. “The incidence of breast cancer in Tonga is at the rise and from 2014 to last year there are more than 30 cases of breast cancer every year, although it is possible the numbers maybe higher because many women do not choose to come early to the hospital,” she said. She also re-affirmed some key strategies to prevent this disease and that early detection holds the key to save Tongan women lives.
A delightful testimony shared by Ms. Monica Tu’ipulotu, who is a survivor, told the gathering the importance of early detection that she once learned about mammogram from a friend, which triggered her to do a self breast exam for herself.
“Early August, one of my best friends went to see the doctor because she has breast cancer symptoms…. this triggered me to do the exam for myself and I found out that I have a lump, a big one, so I have no second thought but to rush to the hospital to do my mammogram,” she said.
Ms. Tu'ipulotu also acknowledged that as a survivor, it is very important for women to understand that their life depends on their own selves. “I do believe that as a survivor, it is very important for you to understand that your life depends on you, not the doctors, not your families and friends, its YOU and how you live your life and how you response to your condition."
TongaHealth supports the Ministry of Health and the Tonga Breast Cancer Society in urging women to conduct monthly self breast exams and for women aged 50+ to do mammograms every two years.
Tonga launches hard-hitting campaign to show the hidden dangers of smoking
The Ministry of Health launched a hard-hitting campaign today highlighting the dangers of tobacco use. Tuku Ifi Leva (Quit Smoking Now) will run for six weeks on TV, radio, press and Facebook throughout the Kingdom of Tonga, commencing 19th of September 2018.
The campaign graphically shows the risks of tobacco use, with a specific focus on heart attacks and strokes. With 46% of men and 13% of women smoking, tobacco use in Tonga is among the highest in the world. Up to half of these men and women can be expected to die as a direct result of their smoking habits. Many more Tongans, including children and adults affected by secondhand smoke, will be left disabled by cancers, diseases, infections, asthma and other serious health complications caused by tobacco use.
Tupou Tuilautala, Senior Tobacco Officer at the at the Tongan Ministry of Health, said today "We know that smokers will lose about 10 years of their life. That is ten years without children, families and loved ones. We believe all Tongans have a right to live smoke free".
The recent increase in tobacco tax is also part of a broader strategy by the Government of Tonga to motivate Tongans to stop smoking. According to Mr Tuilautala “The average price of a packet of cigarettes in Tonga is now about $18 pa’anga. For someone who smokes one packet a day, that’s about $6,500 spent on cigarettes every year, and $65,000 over 10 years. That’s a huge financial burden on Tongan families” he said.
Smokers motivated to quit by the campaign can receive advice and support from trained Ministry of Health staff through a newly established toll-free Quitline (0800 333). Earlier this year, the Tuku Ifi Leva campaign was awarded the WHO 'World No Tobacco Day Award' its “outstanding contribution to the fight against tobacco use in the region”.
The Tuku Ifi Leva campaign is delivered as part of The Tonga National Strategy to Prevent and Control Non-Communicable Disease 2015-2020 (The National NCD Strategy). The National NCD Strategy is based on the best practice principles for tobacco control outlined in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, ratified by Tonga in 2005. Ongoing delivery of the National NCD Strategy, including the Tuku Ifi Leva campaign, is made possible through the support of the Australian Government, the Tonga Health Promotion Foundation (TongaHealth), and the World Health Organization.
“Get Fit, Don’t Quit” – TongaHealth 8 weeks challenge results
“Wow, I can’t believe it. It came to a time that I thought I couldn’t make it through the 8 weeks but I said to myself no, there’s no compromising- this is more like a fight against NCDs,” said TongaHealth’s CEO, Ms. ‘Ofeina Filimoehala after receiving the first prize for being the best leader for the team as she loses 6kg at our 8 weeks challenge achieving her target weight and also the biggest loser.
TongaHealth we held a special program to award this prize as part of our motivation to those who stayed committed during the challenge in which we congratulated our CEO for being the best team leader in this initiative.These past 8 weeks, the team has done a lot by sacrificing their dietary and being more active at work and at home and participating in the entire challenge.
As ‘Ofeina stressed, this initiative has also helped her family members in maintaining a healthier lifestyle. “My family’s lifestyle has changed in the past months especially the last 8 weeks as we are now eating more fruits and vegetables than ever before, substituting chips and cookies with fresh fruits and reducing our intake of carbohydrates,” she said.
Mr. Sevaki Fe’ao, Senior Program Officer for TongaHealth and the challenge Team Leader said that this was an opportunity for everyone to set their goals and aim high, in which he congratulated the winner and the rest of the staff for staying dedicated to this challenge. Throughout these 8 weeks, events included were weighing, office exercises, 30 minutes Zumba, gym sessions, healthy lunches, family sports and boxing.
TongaHealth team would also like to thank Mr. Falakiko Penitani for being patience with us in hosting our exercises and boxing sessions on Mondays, we enjoyed every bits of it. The program will continue on after 2 weeks as to sustain the team focus and healthier lifestyle.
Announcement of TongaHealth’s New CEO
On behalf of the Board and staff of the Tonga Health Promotion Foundation, we are delighted to announce the commencement of Mrs ‘Ofeina Filimoehala as our new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Mrs. Filimoehala assumed her position on Monday, 16th April 2018 replacing Mrs Seini Filiai who retired late last year.
TongaHealth is the lead agency responsible for the coordination of the ‘Hala Fononga’ National Strategy for the Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases 2015-2020, and since its inception, TongaHealth has been working towards implementing best practice evidence based strategies that will impact on the reduction of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Previously, Mrs. Filimoehala was the Manager of Finance and Budgeting for Tonga Development Bank. Prior to that she was working for the Government of Tonga as the Deputy CEO for Compliance and Monitoring Division of the Ministry of Public Enterprises, including Acting General Manager for the International Dateline Hotel. She has a Bachelor's of Business in Accounting coupled with a Master of Business Administration degree with merit, both from the Auckland University of Technology. Her experience and expertise will indeed assist TongaHealth to meet future challenges, through a proven record of operational leadership, strategy development, customer service, team building, financial management and relationship management.
We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to all our donor/ partners and relevant stakeholders and look forward to many productive years ahead ensuring that the people of Tonga are well served in relation to the delivery of excellence in non-communicable disease prevention programmes.