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Pacific Small Island Developing States Turn To Digital Technology For Better Health

19/08/2021, Suva, Fiji – Residents in Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are turning to innovation and digitalization to tackle the growing problem of long-term poor dietary habits and the health concerns that often follow, such as stunting among children, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity and the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), specifically diabetes.

NCDs among adults in Pacific SIDS are among the highest in the world. For example, in Samoa and Tonga, diet-related diseases led to 81 percent of the total deaths in 2015, while in Fiji, this figure was even higher at 84 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The University of the South Pacific (USP) and Fiji’s Ministry of Health are leading the way with an app designed to promote healthy eating and living. Launched in 2017, the My Kana app aims to empower its users with real time data to become more nutritionally informed and accountable by monitoring their own eating habits.

“We have (traditionally) used approaches such as face to face and counseling but with the digital age, having an app or something the users can use themselves to advise them and visualize what they are eating was how we actually came up with the app,” said Alvina Deo, of Fiji’s National Food and Nutrition Centre.

“The app belongs to you personally, you enter your own details, like your height, weight and all these details, and it can calculate the amount of calories or the amount of energy that you need to use throughout the day,” Deo said.

Watch what you eat, then grow your own

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The app has two components. While the first part focuses on dietary habits, the second component deals with gardening. The gardening component encourages users to grow their own food.

“This component explains how you can start your own garden, and also informs on homemade pesticides and fertilizers,” she added. “It’s a whole package on healthy eating from growing to what you are eating at home. So there is no more excuse for people to say they cannot have gardens, or cannot plant at home because the app addresses all these issues,”

For Fijians, and anyone else who wants to use it, the best part about the app is that it’s free.

The app is one of the solutions to be showcased during the SIDS Solutions Forum, scheduled for 30 – 31 August 2021. The SIDS Solutions Forum creates a space for government leaders, development partners, farmers, fishers, community development practitioners and leaders, entrepreneurs, women and youth to discuss, share, promote and encourage home-grown and imported solutions to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and others that pre-existed the pandemic.

The ultimate goal is to accelerate the achievement of the agriculture; food and nutrition related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in SIDS.

More about the app and its innovation is here

A video about the development is here

To register for the forum please click here

Click on this link for preliminary programme

© Scoop Media

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