She was commenting on yesterday’s CINews story in which Mangaia high chief Kavana Daddy Mauriaiti called on the Cook Islands Christian Church and aronga mana (traditional leaders) to use their influence to do more about reversing the country’s negative health statistics.
“Our country is the highest ranked in the world for NCDs. How can we reduce this record among our CICC members is, we can lead by a good example in our communities by changing our eating habits to having small portions of foods at all umukai that church members attend during Teretere Mapu and so on,” Teao-Papatua says.
The CICC should also only supply fruit and sandwiches and serve plenty of vegetable salads at all church events and workshops.
“Best practice should begin in the homes with parents being role models.”
Teao-Papatua suggests each church should have a home garden growing fruits and vegetables which can be sold to members. Quarterly health checks of all church members should also be conducted as well, she says.
For the church to take ownership and drive programmes or activities that would encourage Cook Islands residents to live healthier lives, is something the Ministry of Health (MOH) would love to see happen, says Health Promotion manager Karen Tairea.
“Given the MOH has limited human resources we would welcome help implementing programs through the church – we would provide support for training and program implementation for activities that are in line with our national NCD strategy and also assist with networking.
“These could involve providing healthier food during church gatherings, not allowing smoking on church premises, (promoting) home garden activities, cooking sessions, games for youth, smoking cessation and education sessions.”
Tairea says a real coup would be to have “champion” pastors within the CICC “…to take the lead and make their churches a health promoting church. We would also welcome ideas on how we may progress together on this.”
The church has an important role in influencing our people, both adults and youth, says Tairea.
“Many of our healthy living principles can be supported by verses in the Bible.
“Many people look up to the church and community leaders and may well listen to them more than to a health worker.”
Non-communicable diseases were back in the headlines recently when it was revealed one third of the Cook Islands population has been diagnosed with an NCD. On Rarotonga 38 per cent of the resident population lives with NCDs and that number is increasing.
According to statistics, up to 90 per cent of the Cook Islands population is obese or overweight and around 75 per cent of people don’t exercise enough.