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BRIEF

Feeding Back NCD Taxation Evaluation Results to Tonga’s Remote Islands

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Government Representative for ‘Eua Sunia Havea, sitting fifth from left, joins a group photo when he presided over the dissemination of report findings and recommendations on the outer island of ‘Eua.


With the formal launch of the report Using Taxation to Address Noncommunicable Diseases: Lessons from Tonga held in Nuku’alofa in October 2019, the government of Tonga and the World Bank team visited the Outer Islands of Tonga to share the findings and policy recommendations with officials and communities. In January 2020, the team visited the island of ‘Eua, meeting with the Island’s officials, government officers, health staff and community representatives. The stakeholder knowledge sharing sessions confirmed the support for report findings and recommendations from the communities, including their desire to see that the government uses increased revenues from the excise taxes to improve the health and well-being of the population. Government representatives also appreciated a variety of issues raised during the sessions that were unique to the challenges and experiences of life in an Outer Island, which will support future policy design.

The team also held a series of community consultation sessions across different villages which were open to everyone. “These public knowledge sharing sessions are an important component of the project,” says Sutayut Osornprasop, World Bank Team Lead, “both in order to feedback results to those communities which participated in the initial research, but also to communicate to the public the importance of changing behaviors and combatting NCDs in Tonga.”


"These public knowledge sharing sessions are an important component of the project both in order to feedback results to those communities which participated in the initial research, but also to communicate to the public the importance of changing behaviors and combatting NCDs in Tonga."
Sutayut Osornprasop
World Bank Team Lead

The study has found that taxation generally decreases consumption of cigarettes, alcohol and unhealthy foods. However, unhealthy substitutes need to be tackled, and the taxation policy needs to be complemented with the promotion of healthy behaviors among consumers. NCDs pose a substantial social and economic challenge for Tonga and places significant strain on the existing health services in ensuring universal coverage for tertiary-level treatment. Focusing on prevention through a combination of strategies aims to reduce this longer-term health service demand and keep the community healthier for longer, contributing to advancing UHC. Progress continues in Tonga with the report and associated findings and recommendations informing the country’s National NCD Strategy, currently under development. The study was co-funded by governments of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the World Bank.

The World Bank is continuing to work with the Tongan government and other development partners to strengthen the country’s response to NCDs, including the development of nutrient profile model to guide future food tax design and the development of Social and Behavior Change Communication Strategy and Action Plan, which will be part of the new National NCD Strategy 2021–2025.

Full Report

Policy Notes on: NCDs, Food, Tobacco, Alcohol