One of the key concerns raised at the workshop for the Village Councils and the government agencies on World Water Day last week was over the increasing number of cancer diagnoses and if there are any links to the quality of the water.
The Head of the Public Health division at the Niue Health Department Ms. Grizelda Mokoia told BCN News that this is something they have also started discussing with their colleagues at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
“So we have already had the discussion with our colleagues from SPC when he came last year to do the training for the staff and we had also voiced our request to have support to do the testing and the research to see what types of chemicals there are in the water at the moment and if it really has a link to some of the emerging diseases that we are now experiencing on the island,” said Ms Mokoia.
Since 2019, BCN News had covered and written stories about the increasing number of cancer diagnoses on the island and the work of the Health Department to screen the local population, which has confirmed 23 cancer diagnosis, mainly breast cancer.
Earlier this month the Health Department conducted a screening of the elderly, over 70 years old, and referred seventeen people for mammograms (13) and four for further screening for prostate cancer.
In October last year, Grizelda Mokoia told BCN News that the statistics are definitely a concern for the department.
Last week she said that one of the things they want to find out is whether there is a connection between the increasing of cancer cases and the quality of the water.
“So that’s one of the concerns that the department of health also has. Over the years there is a gradual increase in the number of cases so we would like to find out if it has a link to the water quality that we’re drinking, especially in terms of the presence of any chemicals that are in the water already, “ said Mokoia.
Premier Hon. Dalton Tagelagi, opposition members of parliament Hon. Terry Coe, and former minister of Health Hon. O’love Jacobsen have all expressed their concerns publicly about the increasing number of cases and the need to look into and research why this is so.
Sir Collin Tukuitonga who is the Associate Dean (Pacific) and Associate Professor of Public Health at Auckland University has also expressed his willingness to help advise the government on this matter.
It is not clear, at this stage if there has been any formal approach made by the government to begin the research into the possible reasons for the increasing number of cancer diagnoses for the resident population of fewer than a thousand eight hundred people on the island.