Chaudhry: Poor cannot afford healthy living

Former Prime Minister and Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU/FILE

Healthy living is a lifestyle that’s out of reach for low income families and even those who can afford it fail to practise it because of the lack of awareness on these issues, says Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

He was responding to a statement from the Health Ministry on the increasing number of non-communicable diseases recorded annually in Fiji.

“There is a need for vigorous ongoing programs to create awareness on the importance of regular exercise and healthy eating habits.”

Over the years, he said, the budget allocation to promote this important aspect of health had declined.

“Our people are dying young but except for occasional rhetoric little is being done to combat the onset of degenerative diseases.”

Mr Chaudhry, who turns 80 next month, said there was also a need for reliable up-to-date data on the health status of our people.

“NCDs are very much a diet and lifestyle disease except in cases where genetic issues are involved,” Mr Chaudhry said.

“But in Fiji, healthy eating is expensive and out of reach of low income families.

“We lack a healthy living culture in our country, even among those who can afford it.

“This is why there is a need for vigorous ongoing programs to create awareness on the importance of regular exercise and healthy eating habits,” he said.

Over the years, he said, the budget allocation to promote this very important aspect of health had declined.

He said there was also a need for reliable up-to-date data on the health status of our people.

“Fiji is still officially claiming that it has an average lifespan of 70/71 years.

“This is outdated statistics. The truth is that less than 16 per cent of our population make it past the age of 50 and 8 per cent past the age of 60.

“Our people are dying young but except for occasional rhetoric, little is being done to combat the onset of degenerative diseases.”

Health Ministry permanent secretary Dr James Fong said he did not respond to political statements.

Questions sent to Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete remain unanswered.

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