Editorial comment – More than reversal

Ministry of Health and Medical Services' Wellness Centre, Dr Isimeli Tukana. Picture: File

It is good to know that diabetes can be reversed. Well that’s according to the Health Ministry’s national adviser for non-communicable diseases Dr Isimeli Tukana.

Dr Tukana said there were four levels of intervention in place to achieve this.

Screenings, he said, were aimed at picking up people who were at risk of diabetes. This, he said, was an important aspect of the process because the chances were high for such people to get diabetes.

For those who have established diabetes, a program was in place to look after them. The aim here was to reverse them or to keep them from complications such as heart attacks, strokes or amputation.

Then there was the level that specialists looked after — renal dialysis, cardiology and other related issues.

He said all health care professionals should know about the four levels of intervention and the information should be disseminated to all Fijians.

There must be awareness created to educate Fijians in our communities, settlements, schools, towns, cities and workplaces.

For these programs to work though, Fijians must also make the effort to eat healthy and exercise regularly.

This is an essential part of the reversal process.

There are things we must do to fight diabetes.

We should control our sugar intake, our stress levels; we must eat less fatty foods and go for regular screenings.

Then there is the bit about exercise.

Navua Hospital’s sub-divisional medical officer at the time, Dr Anaseini Maisema, revealed shocking statistics about diabetes at a workshop by
Alliance for Healthy Living in Suva in October last year.

She said the Fiji NCD Risk Factor survey 2011 revealed that the 2002 survey found that 16 per cent of the population (including 15-24-year olds) were diabetic.

When it came to ethnic distribution, 72 per cent of Fijians of Indian descent and 27 per cent of iTaukei were diabetic, she said at the time.

The survey also found out that 70 per cent of females were diabetic.

She said more findings revealed that 64 per cent of the people were overweight and factors influencing poor glycemic control were obesity, poor patient knowledge and poor medication compliance.

She revealed a number of patient factors including poor socioeconomic status, poor family support, patient attitude, defaulting clinics and the language barrier between health professionals and patients.

Diabetes is a major concern.

The revelation that it can be reversed must not be reason for us to become complacent though.

We must take steps to make life-changing decisions now. We must fight diabetes.

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