Letters To The Editor, 9th April 2017

Speaker’s debate on NCDs Dewan Chand, Suva On March 27, 2017, I attended the Speaker’s debate on NCDs at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. The theme of the debate
09 Apr 2017 11:00
Letters To The Editor, 9th April 2017

Speaker’s debate on NCDs

Dewan Chand, Suva

On March 27, 2017, I attended the Speaker’s debate on NCDs at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.

The theme of the debate was ‘Is it time for Fiji to toughen rules on junk food and drink to tackle diabetes and heart disease?’

The members of the panel were Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar, Opposition Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister for Health and Medical Services Anare Vadei, Professor Donald Wilson of the Fiji National University (FNU); Dr Wendy Snowdon, the co-ordinator for the Pacific NCDs, and Neil Waka, the Corporate Affairs manager for Coca-Cola Amatil NZ and Fiji.

The hall was packed to capacity and it was such a great pleasure to be there.

The Speaker of Parliament, Dr Jiko Luveni, was in chair and the debate was very well controlled and conducted.

Each panelist was allowed seven minutes to have their say. The first panelist, Ms Akbar pointed out the gravity of the NCDs crisis in Fiji and the growing burden on the families and the medical services.

She said that 6000 premature deaths occur each year due to NCDs thus putting huge social and economic pressure.

An urgent solution had to be sought to control the crisis. Multi-sectoral approach to control obesity which leads to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and these compound other problems such as kidney failure, heart failure, renal problems, loss of sight.

She called for tougher legislation on junk food and drink advertisements. High sugar and high salt content in processed foods and drinks are directly responsible for diabetes.

There was alarming student obesity has been noted in Fijian schools. Children as vulnerable group need to be protected.

Mr Vadei made reference to the abuse of alcohol and tobacco and legislations regarding these to be enforced strictly and advertisements to be controlled.

Dr Snowdon made reference to the availability of good food in Fiji and the Pacific. Good food choices must be encouraged, she stressed. Dr Snowdon added that the adverse effect of junk food and drinks could be added to the school curricular so that children become aware early and form good food habits. Marketing, advertising, labelling and promotion of food products need closer attention.

Mr Waka of Coca-Cola basically defended the position of his company and played down the harmful effects of high sugar contents in coke.

Dr Mirdula Prasad challenged Coca-Cola company to show corporate social responsibility. Mr Waka said he will take this message to his headquarters for consideration.

Professor Wilson of FNU talked of traditional medicines in the Pacific and the need for more research. A speaker from the floor pointed out that there was ample research evidence from studies carried out at the University of California that coke is bad food and responsible for many diseases such as diabetes and memory loss.

I am of the opinion that children in Fiji and other Pacific nations must not be involved with the Coca-Cola Games as it brain washes them into believing that it is a sportsman’s drink. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The name of the inter-schools’ athletic competitions must change. Overall it was a very thought-provoking debate and people from across the nation participated.

I sincerely hope that this discussion will help people to make informed choices in relation to food so that we can combat the NCDs crisis.


Pollution concerns

Taitusi Sokiveta, Phoenix, Arizona

With the pollution released by Pacific Cement Limited it would be best for all residents close to the cement company to relocate far away from the pollution for health reasons.

Here in the United States, in West Virginia, residents had to relocate somewhere safe when coal mining companies started contaminating the water and air. Some started upper respiratory problems and cancer. The majority of West Virginia relocated to other parts of the State.

The clean-ups of such contaminated areas are going to take decades. However, Pacific Cement Limited should pay for all residents’ relocation, cost of new land ownership and cost of building new homes.

Residents need to get together and sign a petition and take it up to the Attorney-General’s office and the Justice Department and make sure it is in writing with all the cost for relocation covered in the said company.


IQ competence

Sachida Nath, Nadi

I read with interest the report (FS 05/04) that the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) was aspiring ethical leaders in students.

It is always fashionable to talk about good grades, high IQ and the like with budding leaders.

A good leader is one whose is just not competent in the job but has a good CQ (character quotient) as well.

The CQ basically refers to virtue.

The Latin derivative of English word virtue could mean courage, honesty, loyalty and patriotism. These compose one’s character.

Leaders of tomorrow can be schooled in ethics and morality. Sadly in our post-modern world such things have become relative and not absolute.

This world has given our young a host of choices and preferences in all matters of life. These are the forces which tell them; all talk of virtue cannot be practicable but is old-fashioned.

The maintenance of a moral or ethical edge will be a challenge and a paradox that young leaders will have to live with, all times.

In the long run it could make them or break them!

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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