SUVA, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Education Ministry and individual school managements need to work more cohesively to ensure students are not served junk food in canteens in a move to reduce non-communicable diseases (NCD) in Fiji.
With the new school term starting on Monday, concerns have been raised that some schools were selling junk and unhealthy food, including sugary products at recess and lunch breaks.
In Fiji, one of the major health risks is the rising crisis of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
In recent decades, NCDs have become the biggest killer in Fiji, causing thousands of deaths every year - many of those deaths premature - and affecting the lives of many more.
Around 80 percent of deaths in Fiji are caused by an NCD and those numbers are growing.
Education Minister Rosy Akbar said on Tuesday it's important to keep track of the type of food sold to students.
She said canteens are run by school managements and that is a source of income for them, stressing that good nutrition in schools need to be maintained.
Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete believed the initiative by the Education Ministry will help reduce NCDs in the long term.
Waqainabete said evidence and research have shown that non-communicable diseases begin from childhood and they will work closely with the Education Ministry to address this issue.
This year 189,066 students started the new school year this week.
Minister Akbar has urged teachers, parents, school managements and all Fijians to join the ministry to promote their targeted efforts in ensuring quality and equitable education for the children.