Prime Minister says NCDs can not be ignored

7 June 2022

Nuku’alofa – Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) can not be ignored, the Prime Minister, Honourable Hu’akavameiliku stated while launching the ‘National Non-communicable Diseases Strategy for 2021 to 2025’ (Tuiaki ‘i he ‘Amanaki ki ha Tonga mo’ui lelei) in Ma’ufanga earlier today.

The Hon Hu’akavameiliku was chief guest at the event, where he stressed the importance of tackling the NCD crisis with urgency.

“Whether it is in your family, your homes, your neighbourhood, your community, your church, your workplace….none of us can deny the devastation and loss attributable to NCD,” Hon Hu’akavameiliku told guests at the Ancient Tonga in Fangaloto.

He said NCDs can be divided into three categories, those who are at risk of NCDs – they are our children, our young people, who are the future of Tonga; those of us who are living with NCDs, whether well or not and those who are directly or indirectly affected by NCDs such as the children left behind when parents are lost to NCDs, or skills and leadership abruptly ended by NCDs.

“The point is we cannot avoid or ignore NCD. No one escapes its grasp and its far-reaching effect,” the Hon Prime Minister said.

He said while a lot of good work has been done, there still needs to be better coordination of our efforts, improved monitoring and evaluation of what works, and the empowerment of stakeholders and communities through inclusiveness and effective engagement.

The launch today marks good work done by the Ministry of Health, Tonga Health Promotion Foundation, key stakeholders, donors and regional partners, the local strategy development team, and everyone who had contributed to this important work.

This included the Government of Australia, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the World Health Organization.

Hon Hu’akavameiliku said the most challenging part of any strategy is its implementation.

“May I remind us all that this strategy belongs to you and I. Its success is in your hands and mine. Unless there is collective commitment and investment from every Tongan, man, woman and child, from donor partners, private businesses, churches, communities, non-government organizations, government and leaders, we will continue to witness the unnecessary loss and huge costs due to NCDs,” he stated.

“We cannot afford to wait another year, another month, another day. The time to act is NOW and together we can get through this NCD crisis.”

This is Tonga’s fourth National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs, endorsed by the Government in December 2021.

The development and design of the new strategy was prepared by a team of local experts led by Dr Veisinia Matoto, assisted by Ms Iemaima Havea, Ms Deborah Allan and Mr Tsutomu Nakao II. The team was engaged by TongaHealth in February 2020.

The development team undertook extensive consultation involving over 300 individuals from over 50 stakeholders and development partners as well as comprehensive literature review of best practices on NCD prevention and control.

Findings from these consultations informed the design of Tonga’s new National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs. The new National NCD Strategy was endorsed by Cabinet in December 2021.

Today’s launch was attended by the Minister for Health, Hon Dr Saia Piukala, Australian High Commissioner HE Rachael Moore, government officials and other invited guests.

Photos: PMO Media