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July 29, 2015

JICA Helps Fight Lifestyle Diseases in Fiji and Kiribati
Technical assistance will help the island countries' governments monitor and evaluate their efforts

photoJICA personnel listen to an explanation by a hospital doctor of therapeutic approaches at a diabetes center in the Fijian capital of Suva.

JICA will help the Oceanic nations of Fiji and Kirabati attempt to control cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer for the next five years.

These lifestyle diseases — also known as noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) — are the No. 1 cause of death worldwide, and the situation is the same in modern Oceania. A traditional diet of fish, meat, fruits and vegetables has been replaced by a Western diet, resulting in high rates of obesity and NCDs.

The Project for Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases got started in May. JICA is providing technical cooperation to strengthen the capacity of government and medical institutions to oversee NCD prevention and countermeasures and to create a system for monitoring and evaluation, in an effort that will last through 2020.

The project is providing technical support to initiatives already underway by the two governments to combat NCDs.

In Kiribati, JICA will cooperate to establish a community-based approach to NCD countermeasures and to strengthen the capacity to analyze data obtained through monitoring and evaluation.

In the future, JICA expects this project to become a model for Oceania, which shares social conditions peculiar to island nations, and to contribute to NCD countermeasures throughout the region.

In Oceania, the four major noncommunicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and malignant tumors) cause 78 percent of deaths. In Fiji, it is calculated that more than 70 percent of deaths in 2012 were caused by NCDs. In Kiribati, on the other hand, 74 percent of people ages 25 to 64 are categorized as having high risk of developing an NCD. By way of comparison, 68 percent of global deaths in 2012 were due to noncommunicable diseases, according to the World Health Organization.

The Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services' Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) Strategic Plan 2015-2019 proclaims a policy of evidence-based prevention and treatment. It also focuses on strengthening monitoring and evaluation functions to achieve a holistic, community-based approach to wellness.

The Kiribati government's national strategic plan for NCDs for 2013-2015 focuses on expanding and bolstering oversight of NCD countermeasures. It also includes strengthening prevention of, countermeasures to and monitoring of NCDs. The government also plans to approach communities for assistance combating NCDs, based on the Health Outreach Program for Equity (HOPE).

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