Scholarship to research NCDs in Cook Islands

Monday November 14, 2016 Written by Published in Local

WITH NON-communicable diseases (NCDs) being an increased risk in the Cook Islands, a Pacific Health Research PhD scholarship has been awarded to a researcher for a three-year study on the problem in Rarotonga.


The PhD scholarship of $110,834 was awarded to Siobhan Tu’akoi from the University of Auckland in New Zealand under the Liggins Institute to work on the study of NCD risks to adolescents in Rarotonga.

NCDs are rising steadily and now account for two-thirds of the annual deaths globally.

With a recent report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) a prevalence of NCDs and related metabolic disorders are particularly high, estimating that NCDs contribute to 74 per cent of all deaths.

Tu’akoi says NCD interventions typically focus on adult lifestyle behaviours, but evidence suggests such approaches at later-life stages are largely ineffectual and early-life interventions may have the greatest efficacy.

This project aims to encompass both identification of early-life determinants (maternal factors) of later health risk and also potential for early-life intervention strategies aimed at breaking the NCD cycle in the Cook Islands.

According to an Auckland University statement this approach aims for a better understanding and self-awareness by adolescents of factors underpinning their own health, behaviour and environment.

Meanwhile, Pacific Health Masters Scholarship was awarded to Heimata Herman for a one-year study “to investigate health-related behaviours of Rarotongan adolescents’’.

The study aims to examine experiences of Year 9 students in Rarotonga participating in the Pacific Science for Health Literacy Project, to identify facilitators and barriers to youth empowerment related to actions that support long-term health and wellbeing.

The research will contribute to improving understanding of health-related behaviours from the perspective of Cook Islands young people, thus contributing evidence towards ongoing intervention development.

Evidence suggests that Pacific peoples living in New Zealand suffer from high rates of mental illness, but are less likely to access mental health services. Pacific females are found to have higher prevalence of major depression when compared to their male counterparts.

A Pacific Health Masters Scholarship for “Attitudes, knowledge, behaviours and health in Rarotongan adolescents’’ over 12 months, ($20,600 grant) was awarded to a statistician in the Cook Islands.

Leave a comment