NCDs, a big threat, says Solomon Islands PM

Solomon Is Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela. Picture: RNZ

HONIARA, 28 NOVEMBER 2018 (SOLOMON STAR) – Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) is a huge health cost to the Solomon Islands government and poses the single biggest threat to the future development aspirations of our people and country.

That’s according to Prime Minister Rick Hou, when delivering his statement at the High-Level Roundtable Meeting on the NCD Policy Roadmap in Honiara, Monday.

“NCDs are killing more people in Solomon Islands today than all these causes put together, and still NCD has not been accorded the attention and priority it deserves,”  Hou said.

“This is the reason I announced my government’s commitment at the international stage, in my statement at the Third High Level Meeting on Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases during the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 27th September 2018,” he added.

“And this is why we must we accord higher priority to combating NCDs.

“Because up to 70 per cent of all deaths in the country today are due to NCDs such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, chronic respiratory disease and cancer.”

Hou said NCDs not only rob our country of its intellectual capacity (due to NCD mortality).

“They also undermine the quality of performance of our country’s economic engine through declining labour force performance resulting from NCD-related disabilities.

“As already noted NCDs result in higher unemployment rates, as relatives leave work to care for their loved ones.

“In some instances, children are leaving school early to care for their parents who suffer from NCDs.

“This is becoming a serious source for the rise in the level of poverty in Solomon Islands,” Hou told the gathering.

He said if we do not act decisively to halt, and ultimately reverse the current NCD epidemic, it has the potential to wipe out the cream of this country’s working population even before the impact of issues such as climate change – become significant threats to lives.

“This group, this government, we must declare war on NCDs,” he said.

“Today we commence our journey to halt and reverse the NCD crises that is rampant and responsible for 70% of all our deaths in the country,” Hou added.

He further stressed three important reasons that underpin why his government must double their efforts to halt and reverse the NCD crisis in Solomon Islands.

“Firstly, from the health statistics it points to the urgent need to address this killer disease.

“We have no option but to address it, if only to safe the majority of our population from prematurely being hospitalised or being amputated,” Hou said.

Secondly, from the Economic lenses NCDs impose large (but often preventable) costs on already overstretched Government health budgets and the economy more broadly.

Diabetes alone, accounts for roughly 20 per cent of the health budget.

A Pacific 2050 Publication by the Commonwealth Secretariat estimates that if the trend of diabetes in Solomon Islands continues at its current pace, the country will need an annual budget of US$37 million (SBD$303 million) to respond to diabetes alone.

“This is already almost 40% of the current total health budget. Put simply, this scenario is neither appropriate, nor affordable for our nation,” Hou said.

“Thirdly, from the political stand-point the NCD crisis is occurring under the watch of the Political Government and leaders in Solomon Islands.

“Decisions made by today’s political leaders in our country will determine the level of the NCD crises in Solomon Islands tomorrow.”

It is understood that the aim of this meeting is to convene ‘a high-level, multi-sectoral, whole of government and whole of society consultation meeting’ to commence development of our NCD Roadmap with the goal to slow down, halt and reverse the NCD epidemic in the country.

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