Exploring Pacific funding mechanism option to turn the tide on NCDs

Pacific Island countries and territories at the inaugural Pacific Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Summit have expressed their support for a Pacific funding mechanism to better balance responses to the mammoth burden of NCDs in the region.

In this regard, the Pacific Island countries and territories at the summit have agreed to explore options to establish greater synergies between funding sources.

A commitment was also made regarding the introduction of national legislation to ensure all Pacific Island countries and territories meet or exceed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control taxation target and help achieve a Tobacco Free Pacific by 2025.

These are some of 17 key statements addressed in the adopted outcomes document of the high-level Pacific NCD Summit in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, which will be presented for consideration at the Pacific Ministers of Health meeting in Cook Islands next year.

“Whatever we decide to do in terms of addressing NCDs, funding is a very crucial factor,” Cook Islands Minister of Health, Justice and Parliamentary Services, Nandi Glassie, said.

“Taxation on tobacco, sugary drinks and alcohol, for example, is one area, and in fact it’s being seen as a positive move so that each country can develop their own form of funding. But from the outset, this is not enough so we’re looking for more assistance from our key development partners,” Minister Glassie added.

The Government of Tonga and the Pacific Community (SPC) hosted the three-day summit (20 to 22 June) with support from the Australian aid programme, New Zealand Aid Programme, Government of the United States, World Bank, World Diabetes Foundation (WDF), World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

NCDs – mainly heart disease, cancers, lung disease and diabetes – account for up to 75% of recorded deaths in the Pacific.

Common themes expressed throughout the high-level discussions, and reflected in the outcomes statement, were the importance of strong leadership, government stability, multi-sectoral collaboration and use of existing traditional governance structures to sustain efforts to reduce NCDs.

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark commended the regional NCD Roadmap for recognizing the importance of action across all sectors for NCDs.