500 Fijians With Type One Diabetes, Akbar Tells

There are 500 Fijians living with type one diabetes from 2014 to 2018, latest statistics from the Ministry of Health has revealed. What is more alarming is that the youngest
17 Aug 2018 10:00
500 Fijians With Type One Diabetes, Akbar Tells
Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar (seated second from left), with participants and medical staff during the opening of the Northern Diabetes, Rheumatic Heart Disease and Tuberculosis youth camp at Bethel Primary School in Labasa on August 16, 2018. Photo: Shratika Naidu

There are 500 Fijians living with type one diabetes from 2014 to 2018, latest statistics from the Ministry of Health has revealed.

What is more alarming is that the youngest Fijian with type one dia­betes is a 10-year-old living in the Northern Division.

She further revealed that the youngest person living with Ges­tational Diabetes Mellitus in the North was 19 years of age. Gesta­tional Diabetes Mellitus or GDM develops during pregnancy (gesta­tion). It causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health.

These alarming statistics were highlighted yesterday by the Min­ister for Health and Medical Ser­vices, Rosy Akbar, while opening the Northern Diabetes, Rheumatic Heart Disease and Tuberculosis youth camp at Bethel Primary School in Labasa.

She said it was of greater concern that people developing diabetes, re­gardless of what type, were getting younger.

“But the fact remains that Non- Communicable Diseases like dia­betes is a lifestyle disease which is preventable,” Ms Akbar said.

“If we take good care of our health, which means being commit­ted to eating healthy, avoiding food high in salt, sugar and oil content and ensuring to have 30 minutes of exercise every day plays a key role in staying NCD free.

“The key to good health is to keep your blood sugar levels within the range your doctor gives you.”

The minister also told the youths that the camp would further en­hance their opportunities to seek ways to improve their lives.

She reiterated that the ministry was committed to work with its stakeholders to tackle NCDs.

Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD)

There are almost 3500 Fijians liv­ing with RHD, Ms Akbar revealed.

“In the North, there are approxi­mately 800 people registered as having being diagnosed with RHD,” she said.

“RHD is the chronic damage to the valve(s) of the heart, which results from repeated episodes of rheumatic fever. In the country, one child in nearly every classroom has confirmed RHD.

This disease, the minister said, most commonly started from a sore throat or infected skin sores, spe­cifically from a bacteria or germ called Group A streptococcus or ‘strep’ for short.

“Once someone has RHD, they will need to take their monthly Benza (penicillin) injection to stay well,” she said.

Through the ministry’s 2018/19 Budget allocation, the RHD pro­gramme is allocated $40,000.

“We will work collaboratively with organisations such as CureKids to conduct wider community out­reach and awareness programmes on RHD,” Ms Akbar said.


Tuberculosis (TB)

Last year, 358 cases of TB were re­corded nationally, of which 60 per cent were notified from the Central and Eastern divisions, 30 per cent from the West and 10 per cent (or 36 cases) in the Northern Division, Ms Akbar revealed.

“70 per cent of cases affected the lungs and are deemed infectious, while children represented 14 per cent (or 51 cases) of all.

“People with diabetes accounted for 14 per cent of all cases. TB deaths stands at approximately 26 per year.

“Diabetic represented a signifi­cant risk to TB control efforts in the country because a diabetic was three times more likely to develop TB disease if they became infected.

“When it comes to TB it is cur­able and largely preventable. Being aware of your risk as well as the signs and symptoms of the disease and presenting promptly to a health facility for a diagnostic test is im­portant as well as being faithful to the entire course of treatment. In this way you not only protect your­selves, but also your community,” she said.

The ministry has been allocated $500,000 for TB national awareness/ education and administration of services for TB in patient care and specialist clinics located in Labasa, Lautoka and Tamavua in Suva.

Targeting youths

The minister congratulated the youths who were selected to attend the first Northern Youth Camp organised by Ministry of Health, Diabetes Fiji, Rheumatic Heart Dis­ease (RHD) Programme and Tuber­culosis (TB) Unit.

“We are targeting the youths be­cause it’s easier to influence behav­iour change at a young age com­pared to when they are older and have set routines and behaviour that are more resistant to change,” Ms Akbar said.

“This is a great platform to ad­dress health issues that affects the lives of our youth. Diseases like diabetes, rheumatic heart disease and tuberculosis need to be taken very seriously.

“In dealing with chronic condi­tions such as diabetes, RHD and TB, young people first need to un­derstand more about their condi­tion, which will then help them manage their conditions and lives well. They need to learn how to manage their conditions at a young age so that when they get older, they’re able to continue managing their health well.”

She believes patients are the best people to advocate for better ser­vices, raise awareness not only on how to manage conditions, but how to prevent it as well.

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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