Chairwoman of the Cook Islands National NCD forum Ministry of Health Secretary Dr Josephine Aumea Herman said a NCD group will be formed, as she feels what the Cook Islands is doing at present is not enough.
Forty per cent of the population is affected by NCDs.
A NCD committee was previously set up in 2015 that included sub committees; but “people lose momentum, so we need a systematic approach,” says Dr Herman.
“We need to really galvanise and add a catalyst.
“The committee will be inclusive and open, to ensure the voice of the people is heard and represented.”
She noted the benefits of working with people in society and taking into consideration the respect for Cook Islands’ culture and Pa Metua.
“People are who we work for, we need to work together with the communities and ask what’s going to work for you and what isn’t,” she says.
“It’s heart breaking and painful to see people suffer through NCDs; you can live, there is hope there.”
The aim of the meeting is to reduce the incidence of NCDs by two per cent per year by 2019.
The objectives are to promote and strengthen partnerships of NCD strategies and activities; ensure people with mental health and disabilities are aware of and have equal access to NCD services; ensure readiness and affordability of necessary medicines, diagnostics and technology in primary health care and to strengthen monitoring, evaluation and scrutiny of NCDs in the Cook Islands.
Food and nutrition targets are to see a reduction in the dependency of imported foods; the proportion of overweight children and adults by 10 per cent; lessen the salt intake in diets to the recommended daily standard of five grams per day, decrease binge alcohol drinking and the number of current tobacco users by 10 per cent and to increase the number of adults consuming five vegetable portions per day to 30 per cent.
The open forum issues deliberated on legal frameworks, water, gardens, smoke-free areas, exclusive breast feeding for six months, the roles of traditional foods and medicine, road safety, and supportive environmental schemes such as car-free days, cycling and walking days.