Ministry: 5700 die from NCDs in 2020

Fiji recorded 5700 deaths in 2020 that were because of complications related to noncommunicable diseases, according to a Ministry of Health statement. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

FIJI recorded 5700 deaths in 2020 that were because of complications related to non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

According to a Ministry of Health statement, outpatient data recorded more than 176,000 patients treated for diabetes between 2013 and 2018.

The ministry also stated that Pacific island countries suffered some of the highest rates of non-communicable diseases – such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes – in the world.

Head of Wellness Fiji Dr Devina Nand said the overconsumption of sugar, salt, oil and processed foods were all major contributors to the prevalence of NCDs in Fiji – a crisis she said was claiming lives and creating serious suffering for many Fijians.

Dr Nand said it was a shame that these unhealthy options filled consumer shopping baskets when Fiji had so many fresh fruits and vegetables and other nutritious food options.

“Changing consumer habits is a slow-going but essential effort that helps to build a more nutrition secure Fiji,” she said.

“Programs like the ‘Grow Your Own Food’, a home gardening initiative, by the Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with the MHMS, the ‘Grow Your Own Food’ booklet, and the My Kana app (available on Google Play Store) are excellent ways forward.

“And we hope, over the longterm, to see unhealthy options, like sugar, fall to more responsible levels of consumption.”

Diabetes Fiji Inc project manager Viliame Qio said diabetes was among the most devastating of NCDs and high sugar intake made the disease more prevalent and severe among people across gender and ethnicity.

He labelled the five-year outpatient data of 176,000 “a crisis”.

“We welcome any measures that address the contributing factors to diabetes and will continue to advocate fiercely for healthier, more nutritionsecure consumption from Fijians,” he said.

Meanwhile, the 2018 Economic Burden Report Fiji highlighted that the total burden of NCDs on Fijian society –– because of lost hours of work and healthcare needs – is estimated to be $406 million annually.

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