A young Samoan woman representing youth of the Pacific has called on governments of Forum member states to look at investing more in youth development particularly health and environmental issues.
Kaisarina Salesa of the Samoa National Youth Council told leaders that the security of the Blue Pacific rests on the wellbeing and resilience of the people being rooted in their cultural identity.
“We are a communal people, connected through generations of customs and traditions from our environment and our ocean,” she said.
“Our oceans are dying, our people are dying. We have the highest rates of NCDs in the world; we are literally dying from preventable diseases,” she claimed.
Salesa said up to 75% of deaths in the region die from NCDs prematurely.
She pointed out that eight Pacific nations are ranked in the top 10 of the world with the highest prevalence of diabetes.
“As we sit here, these non communicable diseases, takes more of our women and vulnerable groups and yet are preventable. So far 99% of our national health budgets are being allocated to treating the symptoms rather than preventing the causes”.
In closing she called on the Forum Leaders to commit to allocating more of national budgets to effective preventive measures.
She also asked that governments give more financial support to National Youth Councils to lead innovative use of ICT solutions.
Maximizing sports and physical activities to help reduce premature deaths from NCD and to establish a youth economic empowerment fund to promote entrepreneurship to address youth unemployment was also suggested.