Itaukei Community challenge

Engaging the Itaukei Community in reducing life style risk factors for NCDs.

There has been a serious lethargy on the part of the Itaukei community being involved in health activities in the Vanua of Vuda. The villages involved include Viseisei, Lomolomo, Lawaki and Natalau. The NCD life style risk factors namely smoking, alcohol and kava intake, eating habits and lack of physical activity are serious issues in the community as shown by the VSHC mini STEPs survey. Obesity, cardio vascular diseases and diabetes are prevalent and the local statistics are worse in some areas then the rest of Fiji.
The purpose of the meetings was to inform the community about the bad state of NCDs in the Vanua and to say that the risk factors can be reduced by community action. The hope was that these discussions will lead to a revival of the village health committees and their influence on key decisions made by the Tikina Council. This Council of the village leadership makes the decisions which are crucial to the activities in the village for example creating smoke free zones, limiting times when kava and alcohol can be consumed, creating opportunities for increasing physical activity.
The meetings were held on Tuesday 4th March and Wednesday 5th March.
The first meeting involved the women of the Vanua. Women are the most influential in managing life style risks in families. However, traditionally their role can be undermined unless the men folk are supportive and involved.

The first meeting was with the women from the Vanua of Vuda. The participants included Adi Senitiki Tavaiqia, Adi Varanisese Tavaiqia, Seniloli Tora, Naomi Nabanisau, Vika Bete, Aliti Varo, Mereoni Bui and Sera from the 4 villages of Viseisei, Lauwaki, Natalau and Lomolomo. They advised that the health statistics from the national STEPs survey and the local survey should be widely communicated.
They said that the engagement of the village requires that certain protocols need to be followed. These protocols require the involvement of the Turaga ni Koro as the link between the community and the Village Council where key decisions are made and endorsed. They also said that the nomination of the Community Health Workers needs to come from this body as well. They recommended the revival of the village health committee.

On the second day the Turaga ni Koros from Viseisei, Lawaki, Lomoloma and Natalau. the assistant Roko from the Ba Provincial Council, the DO and representatives from Ministries of Youth and Social Services and the Headmaster from Vuda District School attended. The participants were Iliesa Cebanivalu, Anare Tuidraki, Kaminieli Seganavau, Viliame Mali, Mosese and Solo. Seruwai Raulini from the Social Welfare office, Valani Naloqa from the Ministry of Health and the District Officer Lautoka Ruth Atu.

The meeting endorsed the following :
1. The Turaga ni Koros will work with the VSHC in tackling the health risks in the community.
2. The Village Health Committee will be revived and VSHC will be invited to attend.
3. That on the last Friday of each month at 2pm there will be a meeting of the Turaga ni Koros and the CHWs at VSHC to discuss progress with health initiatives in the Vanua.

The District Officer who is the representative of the Central Government at the District level advised that the Vanua develop a strategic development plan which can then be submitted to her for opportunities for funding key projects.
The representative from the Ministry of Youth said his Ministry would be happy to be involved in the promotion of physical activity and home gardening.
The meeting adjourned and the next meeting will be on March 27.