EVERY 12 hours someone in Fiji loses a part of his or her body to amputation because of diabetes, according to Colonial War Memorial Hospital surgeon Josese Turagava.
Statistics have also revealed that the youngest person to have fallen victim to the lifestyle disease was a mere 13-year-old and an alarming 16 per cent of the population are known diabetics.
Of more concern is the fact that 50 per cent of diabetes cases — or 64,000 people did not know they were afflicted until a traumatic event led to blood tests.
Now as the non-communicable disease (NCD) becomes more prevalent, Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprise N Development's (FRIEND) PRISM medical team has launched a blue ribbon campaign in the lead-up to World Diabetes Day on November 14.
FRIEND director and founder Sashi Kiran said the situation in rural communities was critical as PRISM health teams were finding new diabetes cases every week.
"A number of patients screened seemed to have been carrying the disease for years without knowing," she said.
"We regularly come across patients who only realise their condition once they have reached a stage where they have to lose a limb because of an injury that refuses to heal."
In an effort to increase awareness, she said FRIEND's blue ribbon campaign would require those aged over 18 years to get screened for blood sugar levels.
"We are distributing blue ribbons and brochures with diabetes information in our communities and among our stakeholders are asking others who may be interested to wear blue and send us their photos which we are uploading on our facebook page," Ms Kiran said.
"It is about having a little fun as we spread the message of eating right, exercising and taking medications on time."
She said her hope was that through the campaign people would talk about diabetes, take steps to prevent getting the NCD and also promote screening for the disease.