And with the aim of informing people how serious these diseases can be, the Ministry of Health is urging everyone to take advantage of the one-week NCD awareness programme being held at Maire Nui park in Avarua.
At yesterday’s event both young and old took advantage of the health risk assessment programme.
Community Health Services promotion manager Karen Tairea said the turnout was a positive sign that people were taking the initiative to see what the ministry had to say about NCDs.
“We had a good number of people who came in on the first day to the group exercise programme and they returned with a positive attitude.”
Tairea said the assessment programme included tests for diabetes, blood pressure and advice from doctors. Staff were also recording the weight of each person tested.
Tiphanie Pito, 20, was there to take advantage of the free check-up.
“I saw this on television and have informed my friends and family about it.
“I think what the Ministry of Health is conducting today is important, and it is not every day that we are given the opportunity to have a free health test.”
According to a ministry media release, for the past five years NCDs have been the main cause of death in the Cook Islands. In 2014 there were 131 deaths of which 102, or 78 per cent, were caused by NCDs and cardiovascular diseases.
Heart attacks and strokes have continued to be the main cause of death in this country, followed by diabetes. And many of the deaths could have been prevented by healthier lifestyles, the ministry says.
The World Health Organisation says NCDs including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, are collectively responsible for almost 70 per cent of all deaths worldwide. Almost three quarters of all NCD deaths, and 82 per cent of the 16 million people who die prematurely, or before reaching 70 years of age, occur in low and middle income countries.
The rise of NCDs has been driven mostly by smoking, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets.
Today’s event; will have the ministry of agriculture conducting a farmers day initiative where fruit trees and vegetable seedlings will be for sale and a local renown chef will conduct cooking demonstrations.