Tukuitonga at the helm New boss of SPC sets out to fine-tune the Pacific

New boss of SPC sets out to fine-tune the Pacific’s largest organisation

With three out of four deaths in the Pacific today caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the islands’ most immediate concern is NCDs and not so much HIVAIDS. That is the view of the new chief of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Dr Colin Tukuitonga and it reflects the kind of vigour and drive he intends to bring into the job. “There is no doubt in my mind that the money that is allocated to tackle NCDs is way short of what is needed both at the regional level and at the national level. I do acknowledge that some island countries have increased their budgets on NCDs but overall my view is that it is way short than what is needed. Part of the problem is that the influence of global events distorts what happens in this region. For example, there is a global fund to fight Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIV-AIDS and it is fantastic and our region has had some benefits from that and the SPC is the principal recipient for this part of the world. 3 out of 4 die of NCDs “But you know overall despite all these dire predictions 10 years ago, the Pacific remains a low prevalent area for HIV-AIDS. Efforts to combat HIV-AIDS need to continue, no question. Conversely, 3 out of 4 people who die in the Pacific die one way or the other from NCDs but there is no global or regional fund to help countries and regional organisations to tackle this problem. So there is a distortion and we end up not having the resources we need to tackle the real problem. So it is something we have to address.”

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