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Tackling non-communicable diseases the Pacific Framework for NCD Prevention and Control
Written by Jeanie McKenzie   
Friday, 11 April 2008

ImageNon-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death in Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), accounting for approximately 75% of deaths annually.[1] 

Surveys undertaken in selected PICTs reveal that significant rates of NCDs arise from key risk factors such as hypertension and obesity.[2] Research has shown that addressing major risk factors by improving the diet, increasing physical activity, and controlling the use of tobacco and alcohol can have a significant effect on lessening the incidence of NCDs, preventing up to 80 per cent of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes, and 40 per cent of cancer.[3]

The current resources available at national and regional levels are neither in proportion to the incidence of NCDs nor adequate to address the challenge. SPC therefore commends the Australian Government’s recent commitment to provide AUD 20 million over four years to support efforts to combat NCDs in the Pacific.  

Most of this funding will be used to implement the Pacific Framework for NCD Prevention and Control, which has been developed by SPC and WHO (World Health Organisation) in consultation with PICTs. SPC and WHO will be working more closely together to harmonise and coordinate the efforts of implementing partners and donors in tackling NCDs.

The purpose of the programme is to assist PICTs to improve the health of their populations by establishing a comprehensive approach to profiling, planning, implementing, and monitoring and evaluating (M&E) sustainable initiatives to combat NCDs and associated risk factors.

The programme will provide a comprehensive and integrated set of activities targeting the major risk factors (alcohol and tobacco use, inadequate diets and lack of physical activity). It will provide support for developing policy and legislation, enforcement and taxation strategies. It will also promote awareness and education through technical assistance, capacity building and workforce development, supported by information, surveillance and research. 

There are five key programme objectives:

  • Strengthen development of comprehensive, multi-sectoral national NCD strategies
  • Assist countries to implement their NCD strategies
  • Support the development of sustainable funding mechanisms to deliver NCD strategies
  • Strengthen national health systems and capacity to address and prevent NCDs
  • Strengthen regional and country level M&E and surveillance systems 
     

The indicative work plan has identified a number of areas for assistance over the life of the programme. While the exact nature of assistance to be provided will be determined after consultations with individual PICTs, the NCD team has prioritised key areas of assistance for the early stages of implementation.

Higher to medium priority areas include:

  • Developing national multi-sectoral NCD strategies
  • Establishing grants/funding mechanisms to support NCD implementation at national level
  • Establishing coordination and/or focal points to help drive NCD implementation
  • Assessing legislative and policy frameworks to maximise opportunities for NCD prevention and control
  • Providing advocacy on NCD issues
  • Improving the availability and application of national NCD data (for baseline analysis, and evidence-based planning and interventions)
  • Supporting healthy lifestyle and clinical interventions
  • Assisting workforce planning and capacity assessment
  • Training NCD staff/placements
  • Implementing communication/social marketing programmes
  • Setting up sustainable funding mechanisms (e.g. Health Promotion Foundations) 

The implementation will be country driven, with the programme responding to the priorities identified by individual PICTs during planning. At this stage, we envisage making the draft framework available for comment by mid 2008. There are also plans to establish a Joint Management Committee and to hold a donor roundtable meeting.

For more information, please contact Jeanie McKenzie, NCD Adviser - Tobacco and Alcohol, Healthy Pacific Lifestyle (email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it )

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[1] World Health Organization. The World Health Report 2002. Reducing Risks to Health, Promoting Healthy Life. Geneva; WHO.

[2] NCD STEPS Surveys

[3] World Health Organization. Ten facts about chronic disease: www.who.int/chp/chronic_disease_report/en/

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Last Updated ( Friday, 11 April 2008 )