Women are central to the battle on NCDs, conference hears PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The central role of women in the battle against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Pacific was reaffirmed at the 11th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women at SPC headquarters in Noumea.wame1web.jpg




United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reproductive health adviser Dr Wame Baravilala, back row second from right, at the 11th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in Noumea (SPC Photograph, 18 August 2010). 

SPC Healthy Lifestyle section head Dr Viliami Puloka told the conference on August 18 that NCDs in the Pacific were of a tsunami magnitude.

‘But unlike tsunamis, NCDs are sticking around,’ he said.

Dr Puloka stressed that SPC’s work with countries on addressing NCDs depended on women. Eighty per cent of the 35 small grants under Australian and New Zealand funding administered by SPC are for activities managed by women’s groups.

Earlier, a panel on women’s health headed by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reproductive health adviser Dr Wame Baravilala reported that NCDs have reached epidemic proportions.

Obesity levels were increasing, he said, often causing diabetes which could require long-term, expensive treatment such as dialysis. But only some countries had the necessary equipment.

In American Samoa, for example, roughly half the population was diabetic and 30 per cent of the health budget was spent on dialysis.

‘It’s chronic, it doesn’t go away, it causes major disabilities and it shortens lives,’ Dr Baravilala said.

‘If we want to do something about obesity in this part of the world, we really need to change the mindset of children. For us it’s too late,’ he said.

Seventy per cent of health budgets were being spent on curative care and access to health services was affected by the location of services in towns, by high costs and poorly resourced screening services.

In particular, cancer prevention services (detection and management) in the Pacific Islands region was grossly inadequate. Breast, cervical and ovarian cancers were significant causes of ailment and death. In some cases pap smear tests were stacked in the laboratory ‘and that’s where they stay’ with results not followed up on.

Countries could not afford screening programmes for these cancers, 30 per cent of cancers were unpredicted and when discovered it was too late.  Most die, he said.

All of this reflected the general low status of women in the Pacific, Dr Baravilala said.  

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 August 2010 )
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