The following is presentation by Kaisarina Salesa with the Samoa National Youth Council in one of the sessions on Resilient Pacific People for a Sustainable Future – taking place this week during the 48th Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting in Apia:
Lau Afioga le tama o le atunuu, faafetai mo le avanoa, O se mitamitaga ia te au, o se tamaitai tupulaga talavou a Samoa, ua e tatala le avanoa mo Civil Society e tuuina atu se matou leo, e fautuaina ai o tou faiva ma tiute.
Ia manuia lou afioga taitai fono. O lau pule lea.
I am Kaisarina Salesa, a young Samoan woman and I deal with issues affecting us on a daily basis.
The security of our Blue Pacific rests on the wellbeing and resilience of our people being rooted in our cultural identity. We are a communal people, connected through generations of customs and traditions from our environment and our ocean.
Both the seas and our lands have taught us lessons on survival, defined our relationships as custodians of the sea, in which all people rely. But there is a disconnection between our relationship with the lands and the ocean. Today what we have is an unhealthy ocean and an unhealthy people.
Our oceans are dying, our people are dying. We have the highest rates of NCDs in the world; we are literally dying from preventable diseases, in fact:
• Up to 75% of us die from NCDs prematurely. 28.5 per 100,000 of our Pacific women young and old die from cervical cancer;
• 8 of our Pacific nations are ranked in the top 10 of the world with the highest prevalence of diabetes;
As we sit here, these non communicable diseases, takes more of our women and vulnerable groups and yet are preventable. So far 99% of our national health budgets are being allocated to treating the symptoms rather than preventing the causes.
• CSO advocacy at the grass root level wants to integrate better health choices to encourage the prevention of NCDs;
• Early detection and screening processes need to be made available and in safe spaces by both public and private providers. We need these services to save lives.
• If our women and youth are included in policy development at the highest level, Pacific economic developments would go hand in hand with social stability.
We, the CSOs, respectfully call on our leaders to:
1. Commit to allocating more of our national health budgets to effective preventative measures. Moving a few budget lines will save many lives.
Young people are already driving implementation as change makers to the health and economic development of our nations. However, we do not have enough structural and financial support to sustain the works and efforts of National Youth Councils in:
• Safeguarding our blue Pacific;
• Preventing the increase of NCDs; and
• Addressing the issue of youth unemployment.
Our youth unemployment rate is 23% and rising.
Such exclusion makes our youth more vulnerable to cross cutting issues such as climate change, STIs and a serious degradation of cultural identity and pride.
Without employment, our youths are lost and aimless. And they are vulnerable because of how little we invest in allowing them to contribute to solving the problems facing us all. There is no sustainable development without the active participation of our youth, our persons with disabilities and our women.
Civil Societies offers itself as an effective partner. We can support and add value to our economic developments by working in partnership to restore our social values that promote and enhance community cohesiveness and social responsibility.
We, the CSOs, call on our leaders to:
2. Support National Youth Councils through budget allocation to:
a. Lead the innovative use of ICT solutions;
b. Maximise sports and physical activities as a contribution to reduce premature deaths from NCDs; and
c. Establish a youth economic empowerment fund to promote entrepreneurship to address youth unemployment.
The most important investment and development a nation can make, is secure the health and the Blue Pacific for youth.
• By including our youths, our persons with disabilities, women and our culturally diverse gender identities,
To ensure, that our health and our Blue Pacific are adequately protected, monitored and conserved.