Concerns over health standards

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry during an interview at his office. Picture: RAMA./FILE

FIJI Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry has expressed concerns at the declining health standards of people, particularly with the growing incidence of diabetes, tuberculosis and other non-communicable diseases among our young.

The comment follows an article published by this newspaper yesterday revealing that Fiji’s youngest diabetic patient was an 11-year-old.

Mr Chaudhry said there was a strong connection between diabetes, tuberculosis, heart related ailments and the increasing impoverishment of the people in the lower income groups.

“We have been noting with increasing concern the growing incidence of such lifestyle diseases in our society in the past decade,” he said.

“The 2017 census confirms by noting that only 3.2 per cent of our population makes it to age 65 in a world where people are now living much longer.”

Mr Chaudhry claimed malnutrition, poor diet, growth of squatter settlements with over-crowding and unhealthy living conditions, lack of physical activities and unclean environment contributed to the spread of such diseases in our society.

“We were recently told that Fiji had 360 confirmed cases of TB, but that this was just the tip of the iceberg with a detection rate of 10 per cent. Fiji had successfully contained TB, but it has been on the rise once again in recent years. “The North recorded 60 cases of TB in 2016 and we note that the 2017 census report has shown the highest rate of poverty, both urban and rural, in the North (over 50 per cent),” he claimed.

He said the link between TB, diabetes and poverty were unmistakable.

“Fiji has a very high incidence of leg amputations among diabetic patients. Hospitals are resorting to amputations as an easy way out with an average of one amputation every eight hours or three amputations in a day. “Fiji needs to mount an all-out campaign to fight these diseases as a preventive aspect of health care. We are currently spending at least $120m a year on treating diabetes.”

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