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Fighting the NCDs worry

Fred Wesley
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The revelation that a three-year-old was admitted at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva diagnosed with diabetes is cause for concern.

Minister for Health and Medical Services Rosy Akbar announced this in Lautoka yesterday while highlighting the worrying trend of young NCDs patients in the country.

The youngest patient suffering from NCDs was 11 years old, but, she said, a week ago, a three-year-old was admitted to hospital suffering from diabetes.

She said 80 per cent of people in Fiji die because of lifestyle diseases.

Every eight hours a person's limb is cut off because of diabetes, she said.

She made a point about the general notion that at one stage only elders suffered from high blood pressure and would suffer strokes. This has changed, she said.

Living a healthier lifestyle should be encouraged in all communities, she said.

In January last year, Fiji's national adviser non communicable diseases Doctor Isimeli Tukana said results of healthy changes made to lifestyle to combat NCDs would only be seen in three generations time.

He said, with a certain degree of optimism, it will take three generations for Fiji to see a change.

Dr Tukana said at the time that women were the main factor in driving lifestyle change. It was a massive shift in focus.

The ultimate goal remains being able to reduce NCDs generally.

Dr Tukana said empowering women to drive this change could make inroads into effectively fighting a major issue of concern for us.

He said even though the men led the family, in reality it was the women that usually shopped and were in charge of the menu.

Perhaps it is apt to relook at his comments at the time. He explained that worldwide trends show females have a longer life expectancy than males, but added that if you want to improve the health of the family then you must improve the health of women first.

He said there was a shift of people moving from the plantations to the supermarkets and processed foods were becoming popular.

The challenge is how we become part of the campaign to change our eating habits and general lifestyle.

For many people, changing eating habits is not going to be easy. But it is critical that we make a commitment to that effect.

We can start by educating ourselves about how to enhance our daily diets, and with that, perhaps, develop a habit to do at least a few minutes of exercises daily.

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