11th November 2014





The Fono spreads Healthy Babies Healthy Families Message


The Fono, which provides healthcare and community services across four Auckland locations, has launched a new service, Pacific Maternal and Infant Nutrition, to combat the markedly higher prevalence of obesity compared to the total population. 


A large proportion of Pacific peoples' health disparity is due to their high chronic disease burden, particularly for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Almost 1 in 3 adults in New Zealand were found to be obese in the 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey (Ministry of Health). 68% of Pacific adults were found to be obese with 27% of Pacific children already faced with obesity. 


Led and co-ordinated by Dr Aivi Puloka, the Fono works with key stakeholder organisations to promote the health and wellbeing of pregnant women, women with children under four, and their families and communities, through improved nutrition, including breastfeeding, and promoting more physical activity.


“The exciting part of this programme is the focus on pregnancy. Research shows if we encourage mothers to eat healthily, it improves outcomes for their babies,” says Dr Puloka. “We can expect to see a healthier baby without the risk of hypertension, diabetes and obesity to the mother. Cultural competence is also a must for health practitioners if we are to make a real difference.”


Apart from giving new mothers guidance, Dr Puloka says they also aim to educate the wider family and support network about their role during this time.


The team at The Fono stresses the notion that good health as a child is important in order to have good health in adulthood. A number of the risk factors for many adult diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some mental health conditions such as depression,

 arise in childhood. Child health, development and wellbeing also have broader effects on educational achievement, violence, crime and unemployment. 


The Fono healthcare workers see the heavy burden non-communicable diseases within the Pacific community have placed on services. They know more is required to counteract diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity before people reach adulthood. Chronic hypertension during pregnancy increases the risk for a number of pregnancy complications, including intrauterine growth restriction, preterm birth, placental abruption, and stillbirth. 


Chief Executive Officer of The Fono, Tevita Funaki states; “This programme is specifically designed to improve Pacific health literacy and education around pregnancy. Initiatives like this strengthen our partnership with its fellow providers, who are all striving to get the same ‘Healthy Babies Healthy Families’ message across to the Pacific community.” 


The programme also includes a service where pregnant and mothers who have given birth receive brief but helpful tips with positive health messages and advice on exercise and nutrition. 


Gravida: National Centre for Growth and Development has conducted the research behind this programme while Taha – Well Pacific Mother and Infant Service has developed the Tapuaki Pregnancy Training module. 


Trainers will be skilled up on the Tapuaki module for the community – meeting mothers and families and stressing the importance and benefits of breastfeeding once baby is born, running education workshops, and cooking demonstrations to convey healthy nutrition messages. 




For more information, please contact:

The Fono Media Relations c/- Oceania Media 



About The Fono 

The Fono provides affordable healthcare services including medical, dental, pharmacy, health awareness and community support services. We deliver a combination of these services across four Auckland locations. With combined experience of four separate clinics stretching over 75 years, The Fono aims to be a leader in health for the people who need it the most, fostering well, thriving, vibrant communities.