The Minister for Health and Medical Service, Ratu Atonio Lalabalavu, says the that there is an escalating disease burden in the Pacific region.
Speaking at the Pacific Islands Health Research Symposium (PIHRS) today, Lalabalavu said the profound impact of rapid changes in the social, economic, and environmental landscape on the well-being of Pacific Island populations.
“Over time, changes in health determinants and risk factors have led to a surge in non-communicable diseases (NCDs), carrying substantial economic costs for our Pacific governments and society at large,” he emphasized.
While NCDs are on the rise, traditional threats aren’t diminishing.
“Concurrently, communicable diseases like lower respiratory infections, diarrhea, tuberculosis (TB), leptospirosis, and lymphatic filariasis persist in our region, and in some instances, are staging a resurgence.”
The symposium’s theme, “Bridging the Policy Gaps: Pacific Health Evidence to inform Pacific Health Decisions,” reflects the region’s urgency to address these challenges with locally-relevant research.
“We are eager to embrace new evidence, particularly evidence rooted in our local context, to steer our decision-making processes,” Lalabalavu added.
He also expressed hope for its role in fostering deeper commitments to research, saying,
“I am optimistic that this platform will effectively contribute to shaping solutions that will guide us toward improved health and medical services for Fiji and our Pacific Family.”
The Minister further commended the College of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Sciences for their dedication to the symposium and their role in advancing regional research efforts.