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January 23, 2021

First Pacific Non-Communicable Disease Summit Underway in Tonga

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by Kiwiana Ngabung – EMTV Online, Port Moresby

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for around 70-75 per cent of all deaths in the Pacific islands, according to the World Bank. This is why leaders and authorities responsible are taking measures in addressing the health concern.

The first ever Pacific NCD Summit is underway in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, with the theme ‘Translating Global and Regional Commitments into Local Action’. The summit will see Pacific islands leaders, ministers, and officials from regional and global development agencies addressing the NCD crisis.

Opening the summit was His Majesty King Tupou VI of the Kingdom of Tonga, in the presence of over 120 delegates from 14 Pacific countries.

“We have the ability to halt and reverse this NCD crisis. We have the power to protect our children and keep our development aspirations on track. So let us keep in mind some of the practical ways this NCD crisis may be addressed,” His Majesty affirmed.

Also at the opening today in her keynote speech, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Helen Clark, said “We find ourselves here with good reason – progress has been insufficient and uneven in combating NCDs, both globally and in the region.

“This summit is an opportunity for the Pacific to strengthen its commitment to take a stronger, integrated and more urgent action.”

She further stated that a proactive NCD response will help the region make lasting progress on a wide range of other health and development priorities in turn.

The Pacific Non-Communicable Disease Summit will end on Wednesday, June 22 with the hope of reviewing all NCD targets and strategies in an effort to accelerate implementation and explore new sources of funding.

It is jointly organised by the government of Tonga and the Pacific Community (SPC), with support from the Australian government, New Zealand Aid Program, the United States Government, World Bank, World Diabetes Foundation (WDF), World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

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