7 December 2018
Non-Communicable Diseases a growing threat to Solomon Islander’s health
A the time of writing this story, a young Solomon Islands mother needs help in getting urgent surgery for her heart condition and an appeal has been launched locally through the media and Linkedin.
It is my earnest plea that she is given the help she needs.
In recent years, I believe it is true to say those developing populations such as in the smaller the Pacific island nations, including the Solomon Islands, have seen increasing frequency of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes and cancer.
Cardiovascular disease is now responsible for a large proportion of total mortality in Fiji
I have written much about the increase in Non-communicable diseases having become a growing threat to Solomon Islander’s health and a burden on the already stretched and under resourced medical services and cardiovascular disease is directly linked to NCD’s.
It is true to say Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have replaced the earlier global threats to health such as undernourishment, malaria, HIV and TB. They have become the main causes of premature death.
How to tackle the threat posed by NCDs and CVD in the Solomons? Quoting from advice given by a recent article published in the Journal of Cardiology Practice the suggestions might help.
“As obesity is becoming the major public health threat in Europe, a similar approach to that which paved the way for the reduction in smoking seen in most European countries over recent decades could be implemented with regard to nutrition. This could be accomplished through a close collaboration among politicians, administrators and representatives of the medical profession as there is an abundance of scientific evidence concerning the beneficial effect of nutrition policies on population health.
“Changes at population level in total caloric intake or types of food consumed consistently lead to a decrease in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“ Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages would not only prevent overweight and obesity but also dental caries, leading to extra cost savings and reducing socioeconomic inequalities
“A reduction in daily salt intake by one gram is cost-effective and, combined with a replacement of saturated by polyunsaturated fat, was estimated to lead to annual savings of €7.5 to €11 million in Finland
“Insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide and is a key risk factor for NCD. More than 80% of the world's adolescent population is insufficiently physically active
“Physical activity is declining worldwide and this could at least partly be due to reductions in active commuting (walking or cycling)
“As a population health-promoting action, active commuting has been recommended as a practical way of incorporating more physical activity into daily life.”
Initiatives to encourage and support active commuting could reduce risk of death and the burden of NCDs.
Of course in the Solomon Islands the over consumption of alcohol and home brew (kwaso) undoubtedly contributes to obesity, heart disease, cancer and premature age mortality.
In the Solomons there is already solid proof of the spread of NCDs and related illnesses both for clinical practice and for decision makers to combat the threat of non-communicable diseases with cardiovascular disease as its main contributor.
A reduction in the use of tobacco, supporting regular physical activity and healthy food choices and limiting the use of alcohol will all have a significant impact on the local population and allow the people to enjoy better health and longer lives.