Research work conducted by the Fiji Institute of Pacific Health Research (FIPHR) under the Fiji National University’s (FNU), College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS) is expected to further strengthen after the Institute, in collaboration with several key organisations, received a significant financial boost from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The group of agencies have been awarded about FJD1.4 million from NHMRC for a 5-year implementation research project to strengthen policies to tackle diabetes and hypertension.

“The George Institute (TGI) for Global Health will work with colleagues from FIPHR, FNU and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), as well as food policy experts from Deakin University and the University of Sydney, to implement a 5-year research project to examine the best fiscal and regulatory policies to reduce sugar and salt consumption,” said Associate Dean Research, Dr Donald Wilson.

According to Dr Wilson, the team would monitor the process, impact and the cost-effectiveness of several strategies designed to tackle the high rates of diabetes and hypertension.

“The Institute is excited to receive the funding to the newly developed research structure of FIPHR.”

“The Head of the Pacific Research Centre for the Prevention of Obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases (C-POND), Dr Gade Waqa, is one of the Chief Investigators on the project, and she will be collaborating with TGI to lead this study to strengthen and monitor food policy in Fiji and Samoa,” he said. 

Dr Waqa added that “diet-related diseases are increasing in the region and this project will enable us to engage with government to put better policies in place to reverse the situation”.

Meanwhile, Associate Professor Jacqui Webster, Head of Advocacy and Policy Impact at TGI and Chief Investigator on the grant said:  “hypertension and diabetes are huge problems worldwide and particularly in the Pacific”.

“We urgently need proven interventions that are tailored to the local population, and that can be implemented at a national level. These projects also have the potential to go beyond borders and save hundreds of thousands of lives,” Dr Webster commented.

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