The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education have taken a more proactive and collaborative step to combat the ever-increasing prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) among our population.

Participants at the Health Symposium were told that the Ministry of Education has the concept of Health Promoting School (HPS) where children study about good health practices, which is part of their curriculum.

NCDs have become an issue of grave concern in the Pacific as 75 per cent of adult death in the region is NCD related and it has a great impact on the health of the productive Pacific population.

Speaking at the symposium this morning, Ministry of Education acting deputy secretary, Nemani Drova said the HPS concept had the potential of reaching all the primary students in Fiji.

Mr Drova said the major positive impacts of the HPS were the promotion of healthy foods consumption by children in schools and banning the sale of unhealthy foods in school canteens.

“Our dream is to expand the HPS concept to all the 175 secondary schools and all the 735 primary schools,” Mr Drova said.

The deputy secretary also pointed out the positive feedback the Education Ministry has got from various schools that have implemented the HPS concept.

“We have the Family Life Education as part of the curriculum, which is an initiative of the Ministry of Education designed to assist young people in their physical, social, emotional, spiritual, mental and moral development to empower them to cope with transitions they face on their journey from childhood to adulthood,” Mr Drova said.

“This is taught from Forms three to seven in secondary schools and another subject which addresses child health and wellness at primary school is Health Science.

“The child in school is also given an opportunity to see life from the English Literature’s perspective through the novels, drama, poetry and short stories they read. Hopefully, in their study of English literature, they will be able to make the right choices when they grow up in society.”

He also highlighted the establishment of the National Substance Abuse Advisory Council (NSAAC) to collaborate with government ministries and Non-Government Organisations in order to identify, examine and address problems arising out of drug and substance abuse in Fiji.

Mr Drova emphasised the need to not only live a civilised life but also a healthier life.