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Parties propose policies to battle NCDs

Friday 22 July 2022 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Health, National

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Parties propose policies to battle NCDs
A public health nurse conducts health check on a patient. TE MARAE ORA/22072107

Combating non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and bolstering mental health are key platforms for the political parties’ health policies.

Cook Islands United Party leader Teariki Heather said his Party would prioritise the health and wellbeing of the elderly and the vulnerable by improving services and infrastructure for them in Rarotonga.

“This is our top priority, we have to upgrade the facilities, especially in Rarotonga, so they can all be under one roof,” Heather said.

“We must have a system that assists people.”

Heather said his Party would also look into whether the caregivers’ allowance for looking after disabled or vulnerable people should be increased, as well as recruiting overseas workers to assist with the health response.

“We have the money in the budget for these projects, it’s just a matter of changing our priorities,” he said.

“If we bring all these services together, it will minimise the overall costs.”

Heather said the Party would attempt to address the Cook Islands population’s high rate of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by subsidising the local agricultural industry to grow their own product.

“It’s about changing people’s lifestyles and making them eat healthier, rather than eating processed and tinned food all the time,” he said.

“We can’t eliminate NCDs entirely, but we can address some of the root causes.”

The governing Cook Islands Party’s manifesto, released to Cook Islands News on Thursday, stated: “We know that our health system is challenged by the NCD epidemic, health workforce issues, emerging infectious diseases. Add into this foyer, our ageing population and community perceptions for secondary and tertiary health care.”

“We will work to ensure that our people have access the healthcare they need, when and where they need it. We’ve worked very hard since coming into Government to set in motion and maintain the momentum of healthcare programmes that attests to accessibility for all.”

The manifesto proposes to finalise the new Public Health Bill to address NCD and other public health issues.

“This bill when enacted will guide a multi-sector approach to the conditions of NCD and related diseases,” it says.

The manifesto also says the party will “step up the programmes in men’s and women’s health clinics and checks in partnership with the cancer registry and NCD monitoring programme”.

It also promises to strengthen mental health management and rehabilitation programmes in Rarotonga to support children and teens’ suicide prevention programmes, adult anxiety and depression support programmes, and geriatric dementia management programmes.

The Cook Islands Democratic Party’s manifesto calls for a nationwide NCDs prevention programme, with the aim to reduce the proportion of overweight and obese people in the Cook Islands by 10 per cent.

It also proposes building a fully equipped six-story hospital along with a fully resourced hospice and mental health centre.

The manifesto proposes to incorporate “alternative health medicine, and traditional healing as an additional branch of our health system”, while it also desires to “phase out programmes and dependency on the New Zealand health system”.

Both Democratic Party leader Tina Browne, and the party’s health spokesperson, Selina Napa, have been approached for comment.