Diabetes shocker

IT is shocking that 1300 people on average die each year from diabetes in Fiji. When you add 1000 people on average who die of heart disease, we have to seriously reconsider how much value we are actually placing on our own health.

As individuals, we determine how healthy we are.

Statistics are available to give us a fair gauge of how serious things are and hopefully will inspire us to take steps to improve our lives.

National Adviser for Non-Communicable Disease and Wellness, Dr Isimeli Tukana said figures were taken since the year 2000.

Before 1985, Dr Tukana said, NCDs such as diabetes were relatively unheard of.

They weren’t common then.

Now diabetes, he said, has become one of the highest causes of deaths for people below the age of 70 years in Fiji.

Understandably the statistics are alarming, and as the good doctor said, is a clear indication of a change in people’s lifestyle.

There is a need for people to check their blood every year, he said, because smoking, low nutrition, alcohol and lack of physical activity can change the chemistry of blood.

With that in mind, the solution to wellness then centred on cutting out smoking, controlling our weight, our salt intake, eating more vegetables and fruits and staying active, he said

His next comment is quite interesting.

“There is no medicine for this, I can only advice but I can’t move you because you have to do it yourself.”

In the end, the onus is really on each one of us to make changes in our lives.

That means understanding the value of food to our body, making a commitment to change our diet, and willing ourselves to exercise daily.

Lest we forget, many cases of diabetes can be prevented, and there are measures to detect and manage it to improve the lives of people with diabetes, allowing them to live long and healthy lives.

Last year, in April, the then United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked World Health Day, calling for global efforts to halt the rise in diabetes and improve the lives of those living with this dangerous but preventable and treatable disease.

Diabetes, he said, was an ancient disease that was taking a growing toll on the modern world.

In 1980, he said, 108 million adults were living with diabetes. That number rose to 422 million by 2014, highlighting how serious it was.

As parents and guardians, we have another massive challenge. And that is to be an example to our children.

We must take the lead in the fight against NCDs.

It isn’t an easy one and will require dedication and perseverance.

For the sake of our future generation, it is a cycle we must start now if we haven’t already done so.

The average figures of people dying from NCDs, especially from diabetes, do not make good reading.

That’s the harsh reality of our lives now. We can either live with it or make a concerted effort to change the figures.

It is really up to us. No one is going to be forcing us to eat well and exercise.

But surely, we can make an effort to be examples for others to follow.

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