2 (Wed) July 2014
at Holiday Inn
with workshop participants
Mission to Fiji + Personal Deviation (Day 4 of 8)
In Suva. Wednesday to Thursday, I’m here with a WHO team to facilitate a government workshop on strengthening laws to address noncommunicable diseases. On the weekend, I’ll stay a couple extra days on my own dime to go diving.
The President of the Republic of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, delivered the opening address. During the coffee break, I had the personal honor of meeting him, my first direct encounter with a head of state!
The following is an excerpt from His Excellency’s address [condensed (greatly) and edited (slightly) – I hope that I have retained the essence and substance of his words]:
The leaders of the Pacific, including Fiji, have declared noncommunicable disease (NCD) a health and economic crisis and have committed to battle it accordingly, as the Pacific holds some of the highest rates of tobacco use, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and early deaths from it. It is contributing to poverty, and social and human costs are adding up as well.
NCD is the leading cause of deaths in Fiji. Most of these deaths are occurring before the age of 60 years, something we call premature deaths, as they are occurring in what is generally considered a productive portion of the population. NCD is a national economic development problem as much as it is a health one. It is serious, and let’s get serious about it and use legislation to its full potential to aid in the fight against NCD, not only for this generation but also for the next generation.
I would like to speak particularly about children, our future generation. Although NCD is a lifestyle disease and left to the individual to make their own choices, the children do not have such privileges and are quite vulnerable and need to be protected; this is something the law and policy only can do at population level to support action at individual and family level. We should not be bringing up our children in an obeso-genic environment that exposes them to risk factors of tobacco and drug use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. Let’s teach them right from the beginning–no tobacco or drugs, eat healthy, and be physically active–and provide the right environment for that learning to be enhanced at home, in schools, in villages and in cities through legislations.
For example, there is a bill to ban the marketing of junk foods to children, and I would encourage you that this be pursued with much vigor, and health should work with the justice sector and those concerned to pursue this worthy cause.
I see a great glean of hope with government, development partners and civil society groups coming together to discuss these measures, and I am very optimistic that what the government has targeted for NCD will be achieved in the not too distant future.
LET’S CREATE A HEALTHY NCD FREE FIJI – IT CAN BE DONE AND LEGISLATION HAS A HUGE ROLE TO PLAY.
Dalo is taro root. Colocasia esculenta. In addition to other root vegetables, dalo is a staple in Fijian cuisine, as it is in other Pacific cultures. Usually steamed.
At last, I was so excited to try something local. Unfortunately, I found it very dry in texture and very bland in flavor. I suppose it was better with the rich seasonings and sauces from the other foods, mostly Indianish in character. (Frankly, I’d prefer rice or bread or pasta or potato – no offense.)
Dakyung (다경) is a Korean restaurant. 1 of 4 Korean establishments in Suva, according to the manager.
According to colleagues from WHO and UNDP, it’s where the cool expats go for their Korean fix – I only saw two employees and no customers while I was there.. The menu offered all the classics, whether they’re available (like in the Philippines, where menu offerings and actual availability don’t always align), I couldn’t say.
Tonight’s meal was the first in the history of GMTD that I’ve had Korean food for dinner during an overseas trip. In the past, the Prime Directive would’ve prohibited such nonsense. But living in Manila now – indeed, Korean dinners in the Philippines don’t count, of course – I do miss my mother cuisine these days. And here in Suva, where I haven’t really been able to access the local fare, forcing me to eat overly salty India food for the past couple days, a nice simple Korean spread was a good idea.
Suva is the 20th city and Fiji is the 9th country where I’ve had Korean food outside of Korea.
(See also KOREAN OUTSIDE KOREA.)
Over the course of 16 days, through a combination of personal and professional travels, I will be in 12 localities across 7 countries, eating and documenting at least 1 meal in each of them.
Today is Day 12 / Locality 9 / Country 6.
(For additional posts, see 16/12/7.)
(See also FOODS.)
(See also PLACES.)