Meet addresses poor food, nutrition in Pacific

Farming

DELEGATES from Small Island Development States (SIDs) from around the world came together for three days in November to discuss a Global Action Plan (GAP) developed to address the growing crisis in food and nutrition that is threatening the health of these small island nations.
According to Dr Tim Martyn, Policy Officer, FAO Country Office, the three SIDS regions are:
Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea (AIMS), the Caribbean, and the Pacific.
The delegates were attending a Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) facilitated a meeting at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, Fiji, early this month as part of a consultation process towards developing GAP.
The draft plan aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture while supporting SIDS.
Specifically it responds to the food and nutrition challenges faced by SIDS: undernourishment, access to food, food import dependence, food utilisation, stability of food supply and access.
Martyn said the 34-member nations that comprise SID were facing a “serous’ crisis in health resulting from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
“More than 38 million people a year are dying from NCDs such as heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer.
“In the Pacific, on average, NCDs account for 70 per cent of all deaths. In Fiji that number is 80 per cent.
“But the tragedy is that most of these deaths are preventable. “We are a major cause of NCDs, of the cancers, heart disease and diabetes that plague our lands. We literally are what we eat.
“To prevent serious diseases we need good, nutritious food, but this is often not readily available, or for many, too expensive.
“People are making choices of food that they can afford and too often what is affordable is what is making them sick.”
Martyn said this was not an inevitable process or a natural one, but the setting of policies and investment decisions over the course of a generation that has led SIDS to this crisis point.
“SIDS is moving towards addressing these food and nutritious challenges. And this meeting highlighted the challenges.
“There is serious commitment from the international community to the GAP.
“What we need to do now is to engage the political process in each of the SIDS countries to ensure that the political leadership is satisfied with what’s being proposed so that we can move forward on the technical programme,” he said.
Martin said that the draft global document with the input from the meeting would shortly be submitted to UN SIDS Secretariat in New York, a step closer in drafting the final version “of this vital document”.

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