New Zealand and WHO join forces to combat tobacco use and heart disease in the Pacific

News release

WHO recommends walking 10,000 steps per day to improve health and reduce risks associated with NCDs.

The Government of New Zealand and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched a four-year project to reduce death and suffering caused by noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in 14 Pacific island countries and areas.

Tobacco control, healthy lifestyle promotion and high risk intervention are at the core of this 6 million New Zealand dollar (equivalent to more than US$ 5 million) project, supported by the Government of New Zealand, to address the Pacific NCD crisis.

“Noncommunicable diseases cause 80% of deaths and disabilities in the Western Pacific Region,” said WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Shin Young-soo. “I encourage Pacific leaders to develop and implement crisis response plans to reverse this worrying trend. By focusing on prevention and keeping people healthy in the first place, we can get the upper hand on this NCD crisis.”

The 14 Pacific island countries and areas covered by the project are Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Mark Ramsden, acting New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji, said “We are pleased to be working with WHO on this project as part of our continuing support to resolving the NCD crisis in the Pacific.”

Over the next four years, the project is expected to increase support for a tobacco-free Pacific and the implementation of the WHO Package of Essential NCD interventions through primary health care, such as counselling on healthy diets and multidrug therapy for those at high risk of diseases. It brings innovative and evidence-based approaches to bear NCD prevention and control.

Noncommunicable–or chronic–diseases are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. The four main types of NCDs are cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes while the four main risk factors are tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol. Noncommunicable diseases impose a substantial and growing burden on health and development in the Western Pacific Region. Of particular concern is the high level of premature deaths before 70 years of age in several low- and middle-income countries due to NCDs.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Ruel E. Serrano
Assistant, Public Information Office
Telephone: +632 528 9993