Startling statistics show the number of new Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) cases throughout the Cook Islands has increased rapidly over the past four years, raising questions about the effectiveness of national health initiatives.
But yesterday MOH showed that important steps have been taken to raising awareness with the first NCD day, held at the Ministry of Justice building.
NCD Day featured free community health screening and the release of a number of strategic documents.
With a simple finger prick, people were able to find out their blood sugar and cholesterol levels and also get free weight, height, blood pressure checks and find out whether they were at risk of suffering from NCDs.
Doctors were also on hand to make recommendations and there were free dental health checks and mental health awareness displays.
Strategic documents launched at the day included “Ngakianaga Kapiti Oraanga Meitaki: Cook Islands National Strategy and Action Plan to Prevent and Control Non Communicable Diseases 2015 – 2019”, “Turanga Nio Manea E Te Matutu: Cook Islands National Oral Health Strategy 2014 – 18”, and “Te Rito O Te Papaanga Ora: National Health Information Strategy 2015 – 2019”.
The Ministry defines NCDs as conditions of hypertension, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular, stroke, heart failure, myocardial infarction, heart diseases and chronic respiratory diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and asthma.
The main focus of both government and Public Health has been to change the attitudes of Cook Island people regarding eating better food and adopting healthier lifestyles.
Health authorities say imported meat, soft drinks and a lack of exercise continue to be a problem, as does the high cost of healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables.