By Finau Fonua
The health-related quality of life of school-aged children in Tonga is at “worrisome low levels” states a report published in a Swedish-based medical journal, Global Health Action, published in August.
Titled “Low health-related quality of life in school-aged children in Tonga, a lower-middle income country in the South Pacific”, the report surveyed and compared the results of a self-assessment test completed by 2,164 Tongan school children in Tonga and 830 Tongan school children in New Zealand.
The self-assessment test consisted of 23 queries regarding physical, social, emotional and school-functioning wellbeing. Queries such as “It is hard for me to do sports activity or exercise”, “I feel sad or blue”, “It is hard to pay attention in class” required five answers: “Never”, “Almost Never”, “Sometimes”, “Often” and “Almost Always”.
Based on the results, the report stated “Tongan children in New Zealand had a medium-to large-size higher health-related quality of life than the Tongan children living in Tonga. This was due to higher functioning and well-being across the four physical, emotional, social, and school subdomains in both younger and older children, and in both girls and boys.”
“In conclusion, children in Tonga seem to experience worrisome low levels of health-related quality of life, which is of considerable concern as it may have both immediate negative impact and also track into adulthood with negative individual and societal long-term consequences. The results may also signal a potential general pattern of low child-health-related quality of life in lower income countries, or in South Pacific Island countries,” it stated.