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APIA, Samoa (November 16, 2000 - Radio Australia)---Samoa’s Acting Minister of Health has announced that the country is facing a formidable task combating lifestyle related diseases.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said Samoa cannot continue to pay to send patients overseas at the current rate.

He said bad diets; overeating and a lack of exercise are to blame for diseases like hypertension, cancer, heart failure and diabetes.

Tuilaepa, who is also Minister of Finance, admitted that he, too, is overweight. He blamed it on corned beef, a favorite food in Samoa.

He said Samoa now spends up to US$ 583,000 a year sending people to New Zealand for treatment.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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