Well-known for its landscapes, authentic and welcoming population, the Pacific region is also sadly famous because of the high rate of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs are today the main cause of death in the Pacific. To help tackle this regional health crisis, the Public Health Division of the Pacific Community (SPC) began the Wake Up project. First launched in 2017 with the financial support of the Australian Department of foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Pacific French Funds, Wake Up aimed to educate youth on NCDs and train them on communication techniques to raise awareness about NCDs in their communities.
In 2018, youth from six Pacific Island Countries and Territories participated in the second round of the project. After a three-day training workshop, they returned to their home countries to create murals to raise awareness about NCDs to their peers.
Four youth from Vanuatu who took part to the 2018 “Wake Up!” project were selected to show their artwork at the 23rd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion in Rotorua, New Zealand. During the four-day conference, the Ni-Vanuatu young people created a mural under the supervision of a professional artist to raise NCD awareness. The mural has been donated to Rotorua city Council.
These Youth are part of Wan Smol Bag theater youth center in Port-Vila, a non-profit organisation based in Vanuatu and operating all over the South Pacific.
One of the Youth explained his choice to participate to the Wake Up! Project “When I heard about the project, I was really happy to learn graffiti techniques with professional artists and how to communicate with street art to promote health.” He said, “We can’t stop NCDs as is it growing too fast, but we are one, all united doing art together to raise the Pacific on this issue”.
Another Ni-Vanuatu participant also added, “I didn’t know much about NCDs, but I went to the Wake Up workshop and I learnt what NCDs are. Participating in this workshop will benefit my future. Art is a good way to communicate and can help us in our life.”
What is next?
Following the project’s success in 2017 and 2018, SPC will send out a call for applications for the 2019 round. This year, the participants will focus on raising NCDs awareness through comics.
Solène Bertrand-Protat, NCDs Advisor, Public Health Division, Pacific Community (SPC) | Email: Soleneb [at] spc.int