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Pacific News Briefs

BREADFRUIT
SAMOA LOOKS TO ENDORSE OVERSEAS REGISTRATION
compiled by Samoa News staff

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A bill, which would let Samoans living overseas register to vote online was to be tabled in Samoa's parliament on Tuesday.

But, they would still need to complete their registration in Samoa to get their fingerprints scanned and their photo taken.

The Samoa Observer reported under the existing electoral laws, eligible Samoans overseas can vote, but they must travel to Samoa to do so.

The Government has not disclosed if the registered diaspora will be allowed to actually cast their vote while overseas.

Also on Tuesday, Cabinet was also expected to table its plan for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in October.

(RNZ Pacific)

DRUGGED DRIVING IN FIJI

Fiji Police have charged 56 public service vehicle drivers and owners found to be in possession of drugs last year.

Public service vehicles include public transport like buses.

Director of Traffic, SSP Mitieli Divuana, noted this problem during the Land Transport Authority's public consultation on a proposal of mandatory drug tests for new or renewing driver licenses.

The police are working with stakeholders on a policy aiming to eradicate drug possession among public service vehicle drivers.

Meanwhile, Fiji's employment minister said urgent attention is needed to address an exodus of skilled workers.

Agni Deo Singh said apprenticeship training is a proven, hands-on, and job-ready method to boost the country's labour market.

(RNZ Pacific)

TUBERCULOSIS DETECTED IN VANUATU

Vanuatu's Ministry of Health says a case of rifampicin-resistant TB was detected last month in Port Vila.

The World Health Organization states drug-resistant TB continues to be a public health threat.

The Ministry said it is intensifying efforts to combat TB and address the new challenge of multi-drug-resistant TB in Vanuatu.

It said 101 cases of tuberculosis were recorded in the country in 2023.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reported a provincial task force will be established.

(RNZ Pacific)

PNG LANDSLIDE KILLS 4

A family is in "grief and despair" after a landslide in Papua New Guinea's Western highlands has left four people dead, including two children.

As the National newspaper reported, the soil and rock crushed the children, their father and their grandfather while they were gardening.

Youths tried to dig the bodies out but were not successful.

(RNZ Pacific)

NEW ZEALAND HEALTH PROVIDER EXPANDS SERVICE

Pacific health provider, Tangata Atumotu Trust, is building a permanent team in the South Island town of Ashburton.

Tangata Atumotu Trust is Canterbury's longest-serving Pacific health provider.

General manager Carmen Collie said the organization's Christchurch team has done programmes in Ashburton, including working with the community to lift vaccination rates and providing financial literacy workshops.

The new hub is set to provide services including mobile nursing, smoking cessation, support to create warm, dry and healthy homes, and financial capability programs.

(RNZ Pacific)

BREADFRUIT TREES FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE

In a landmark study, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa researchers have unveiled the carbon storage capabilities of breadfruit trees, offering new insights into their role in combating climate change. Despite their lightweight wood, these trees are now recognized for their rapid growth and potential in tropical climate solutions.

The study, published in Sustainability, marks a significant milestone in understanding breadfruit trees, traditionally valued for their nutrient-rich fruits and cultural importance in Hawai'i. Contrary to expectations, breadfruit trees exhibit lower carbon storage in comparison to similar species, attributed to their lightweight wood. However, researchers emphasize the trees' exceptional growth rates, suggesting a faster carbon sequestration potential than slower-growing varieties.

Exploring beyond orchard growth, the research advocates for integrating breadfruit trees into agroforestry systems. This method supports a diverse range of crops, enhancing soil carbon levels, biodiversity, and providing a sustainable income source for communities. The study's co-author, Noa Kekuewa Lincoln, highlights the importance of viewing breadfruit within diversified agricultural systems, aiming for a holistic approach to carbon sequestration and sustainability.

The findings call for further research in hotter tropical regions where breadfruit is native, potentially revealing greater carbon uptake and storage.

(EnviroLink Network)

MARINE SUSTAINABILITY

Amid increasing ecological threats and challenges in marine resource management, leaders and scholars from the Pacific region have underscored the urgent need for enhanced collaboration to safeguard the ocean's health and ensure its sustainability for future generations.

During a recent leadership seminar at Fiji National University's Nasinu campus, Vice-Chancellor Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba highlighted the critical issues facing the Pacific Ocean, including climate change, marine pollution, and ineffective marine resource management. These challenges not only threaten the ecological balance but also the livelihoods and cultural heritage of Pacific Island communities.

As stewards of the 'blue continent,' the journey towards a sustainable future is both a privilege and a responsibility for Pacific Island nations. The shared vision for a thriving Pacific Ocean reflects an understanding that the health of our oceans is intrinsically linked to the health of our planet. By working together, these nations are charting a course towards a future where ecological balance, cultural preservation, and economic prosperity coexist harmoniously.

(FBC News)

INITIATIVES UNDERWAY TO FIGHT CHILDHOOD OBESITY

With the Cook Islands emerging with the highest rate of childhood obesity globally, it is prompting action from health authorities. According to recent studies, over 30% of children in the Cook Islands are grappling with obesity, a situation that has alarmed both the local government and international health communities.

The study, which was published in The Lancet, outlines a drastic increase in obesity rates worldwide, with a staggering number of over 1 billion people affected, including 159 million children. Specifically, in the Cook Islands, the situation is dire, with unhealthy diets, sugary drinks, and a lack of physical activity being identified as primary contributors. Bob Williams, secretary for Te Marae Ora (TMO) Ministry of Health, expressed deep concern over these findings, emphasizing the detrimental lifestyle choices currently prevalent.

In response to this growing health crisis, TMO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and other partners, is taking decisive steps. Initiatives such as the Healthy Island and Healthy School programs have been implemented, focusing on promoting nutritious food choices and banning sugary drinks in schools. Moreover, the World Health Organization and UNICEF are backing the Healthy and Smoke-Free Islands initiative, launched in February 2023, to combat obesity and encourage a smoke-free environment. Financial assistance and resources for establishing sustainable healthy programs in schools have also been pledged, including support from the Asian Development Bank for improving water access.

The Cook Islands' battle against childhood obesity is also receiving support from the Food and Agriculture Organization, which plans to provide gardening equipment to schools. This move aims to increase the availability of nutritious foods. Furthermore, TMO is developing a dietary and physical activity guideline with the WHO's assistance, paving the way for comprehensive policy reforms. The ultimate aim is to eradicate non-communicable diseases among children by 2030+, signifying a healthier future for the Cook Islands' younger generation.

(BNN)

RECYCLED JUNK CAR REFUND PROGRAM SCRAPPED

Saipan Governor Arnold I. Palacios vetoed House Local Bill 23-32 on Monday, a proposal authored by Rep. Manny Gregory T. Castro aimed at establishing a refund program for recycled junk cars in Saipan. Under the proposed program, vehicle owners would have been eligible for a $300 refund from the Saipan Mayor's Office for each recycled junk car.

Palacios's veto sends a clear message about the need for legislative clarity and adherence to constitutional guidelines when proposing local bills. The decision not only halts the immediate implementation of the refund program but also raises questions about the effective management of vehicle recycling initiatives and environmental sustainability efforts in Saipan. Stakeholders are now prompted to reconsider their approach towards funding and executing community benefit programs within the legal framework.

As Saipan grapples with the implications of the vetoed bill, it's clear that a collaborative effort between the government, lawmakers, and the community will be essential in navigating the complexities of environmental sustainability and legislative processes. This incident underscores the importance of thorough legal scrutiny in the drafting of bills and the intricate balance between local initiatives and overarching legal frameworks.

(Marianas Variety)