Health in the Pacific Island Countries

April 6, 2013

Most people think of the South Pacific as a land of sunshine, beaches and palm trees … which it is. But there is a much darker side to South Pacific: disease.  The countries are suffering from an epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The attached chart came across my desk the other day and it paints a very distressing picture. Compared to other lower middle income countries, we are significantly higher for NCDs with both women and men. 

The accompanying report noted that “Each of the 10 countries in the Pacific for which data is available have 60% or more of the adult population overweight, and in six countries more than 75% are overweight. In four countries in the Pacific at least half of the adult population is obese”.  Some 70% of all deaths are NCDs, and life expectancy is falling. Given the precarious nature of the government finances in the Pacific, this is a disaster and a real development challenge. Much harder than building infrastructure!

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Working in Obscure Places

April 2, 2013

You know that your job takes you to out of the way countries when your current work places represent 20% of the list of the ‘25 Least Visited Countries in the World’.  These are (in descending order) #19 Tonga; #18 Timor Leste; #11 Solomon Islands; #4 Kiribati and #3 Tuvalu. Quite the contrast to a few years ago when I worked in China (the third most visited country).

The author also has an interesting perspective on Tuvalu. Quite fascinating to see how things that look so normal to me are noteworthy to a first time visitor. He forgot to mention that it is probably one of the only countries in the world with absolutely no credit card facilities. If you forget your cash you’ve got problems…