Noumea, New Caledonia – An innovative project to develop educational programs based around themes of nutrition and physical health was launched this week in Wallis and Futuna.
The ‘Numéris@nté’ project (Digi-he@lth project) is an initiative of the Pacific Community, implemented by the Wallis and Futuna Catholic Education Office, with funding support provided by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Fonds d’expérimentation pour la jeunesse (Experimental Fund for Youth).
Numéris@nté aims to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity in this French overseas territory. “According to the figures from the 2020 STEP survey report (WHO’s STEPwise approach to chronic disease risk factor surveillance) for Wallis & Futuna, nine out of ten adults are overweight, and one out of five adults is not active enough. Often caused by preventable factors such as unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases, account for over 75% of deaths across the Pacific. They are the result of unhealthy behaviours that begin in childhood. Therefore, it is important to address them from an early age” said Dr. Berlin Kafoa, Director of the SPC’s Public Health Division.
To achieve the objective of reducing childhood obesity, which reaches 35.5% in Wallis and Futuna, the project will implement Beyond the Stars (BTS), the world-first health education program created with support from DFAT’s innovation change.
“BTS uses storytelling, innovative technology, and tangential learning to inspire children across the Pacific to adopt healthy eating habits. Bringing together storybooks, activity books, and games, BTS provides an innovative new way to educate children about health and nutrition”, added Alison Carrington, Australia’s Consul-General to New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna based in Noumea.
First launched in partnership with Fiji’s Ministry of Education and funded by DFAT, phase 1 of the BTS project involved 9 schools in Fiji. To enable the French territories to use these educational resources, the Pacific Community translated and adapted them. This second phase includes Wallis and Futuna and will be expanded to French Polynesia and New Caledonia by the end of 2021. Phase 2 is funded by SPC with additional support from the French Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports.