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.
changing people’s lifestyles and making them eat healthier, rather than eating
processed and tinned food all the time,” he said.
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.”
proposes to finalise the new Public Health Bill to address NCD and other public
“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
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.