6 October 2018
“Medicine is sick care. Nutrition is health care.”
A quote I believe people of all ages in the Solomon Islands should consider while striving to increase their own health and quality of life and that of their loved ones.
We have all been pre-occupied and worried over the recent shortages of medicine at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) and clinics but have we ever paused to think how a lack of proper nutrition is putting a significant burden on the public health system through associated non-communicable diseases and contributing to the use of imported medicines to combat diseases that are often preventable with a proper diet?
Currently, it is understood more than 90% of Solomon Islanders aren’t eating enough fruit and vegetables, substituting instead, imported foods high in fat content and sugar, leading to increasing levels of obesity, diabetes, associated blindness, hypertension (blood pressure), strokes, and high levels of nutritional deficiency.
It is considered by the health authorities that the people should move away from the standard diet of rice, noodles and bread and eat more balanced diets with plenty of local body-building (fish and legumes), as well as eating ‘protective’ foods (fruit and vegetables).
The Solomon Islands Chief Nutrition Officer has been pushing for better nutrition education in schools and staff from the Embassy of the Republic of China (ROC) has also been giving extended nutritional advice to selected community groups.
The relevance of all this is important when one reads that the World Health Organisation (WHO) figures show one third of children in the Solomon Islands are stunted due to chronic malnutrition and almost half of under five year olds are anaemic.
Children need to learn the importance of choosing healthy foods so when they grow up, they can make informed decisions on what to eat and how they can live healthy.
Let me close by saying I perceive with the growing NCD burdens in the Solomon Islands, combined with modest economic growth, it will inevitably further squeeze the Ministry of Health and Medical Services MOHMS) development budgets unless urgent action is taken now to step up the giving of nutritional advice to all communities with a sustained education programme.