DEAR EDITOR, as I write this piece I am mindful that there are many hundreds of ex-patients of the Solomon Islands National Referral Hospital (NRH) that have had limbs amputated due to diabetes and who are still awaiting replacement prosthetics due to the closure of the once operational rehabilitation workshop at the NRH and there being no money to rehabilitate and re-equip the important facility.
According to the WHO (quote) “Replacing traditional foods with imported, processed food has contributed to the high prevalence of obesity and related health problems in the Pacific islands.
“Scattered across the Pacific Ocean are thousands of islands which make up three regions known as Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Beyond the image of white sandy beaches and carefree lifestyles, the Pacific islands are facing serious health problems, the prime culprit being imported foods.
“In at least 10 Pacific island countries, more than 50% (and in some, up to 90%) of the population is overweight according to World Health Organization (WHO) surveys”
I am pleased to have observed that a specialist from the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) in the Solomon Islands has been urging local community members from the Balasuna area to eat a balance diet every day during meal time.
James Yu, when speaking at an integrated workshop held at Balasuna in North-East Guadalcanal on Friday last week, said “It’s important these days that you eat a balance diet to control non communicable disease (NCD) that is on the rise at the moment,”
Mr Yu went on to say, “Though everyone can have enough energy consumption, how to choose a balanced diet is also important for health.”
He added, “Adequate vegetables diversity is necessary, so we are able to stay away from NCDs,”
More than 30 people attended that training and it my hope that the TTM will continue to teach proper nutrition throughout the country and especially involve school age children and their parents.
The health risks posed by diabetes cannot be emphasised enough and a report carried today, 29 May 2018, by Radio New Zealand really underlines my message.
Quoting Radio New Zealand – May 29, 2018, “Fiji has highest death rate from diabetes in the world with 188 of 100,000 fatalities being attributed to the disease.
“The head of Diabetes Fiji said the ranking highlights the magnitude of the problem and the need for a more proactive approach.
“Project Manager Viliame Qio said people are shying away from medical attention and treatment out of denial and so when they do come forward they have more severe complications from their illness.
“Mr Qio said many people were also turning to traditional healers for help first, further delaying effective treatment.
“He said there needed to be more community education about diabetes.
“We have three amputations that take place in a day in the major hospitals and the main reason is the people are presenting late, they come very late, and they are not coming early. So we want to get people to be educated that they have to seek medical attention first before they resort to other traditional methods or herbal methods,” Viliame Qio said.
“Mr Qio said diabetes is also the leading cause of disability in Fiji and people need to heed public health messages about poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles.”