WORLD DIABETES DAY 2016 – “TThe battle against Non- Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) like diabetes can be effectively tackled through a collaborative approach between the health authorities, families, communities and the Faith Based Organisations. This was highlighted as a key message during the World Diabetes celebrations organised at the Suva Foreshore on Saturday 12th November 2016. The national event was organised by the Diabetes Fiji in partnership with Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

A key element of the celebrations was the active participation of the Faith Based Organisations (FBO), Ministry of Health, Diabetes Fiji and families, who all joined in a march across the streets of Suva to show their support for diabetes prevention programs in Fiji.

Speaking at the official opening of the event, the Minister for Health and Medical Services, Hon. Rosy Akbar emphasised on the importance of Faith Based Organisations in the fight against diabetes. Minister Akbar has also accepted the pledge to be the patron of Diabetes Fiji.

“Diabetes is said to be a medical consequence of lifestyle, individuals must take responsibility for their health. Therefore we need to work together to promote healthy lifestyles choices. For this reason, I acknowledge the contribution of the Faith Based Organisation’s as they are a critical stakeholder in terms of promoting and changing lifestyles and behaviour of members of their organizations.
“We need everybody to work together to fight against diabetes, as the Ministry of Health cannot achieve this alone. I am glad that the Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) have taken a lead role to celebrate the World Diabetes Day 2016. The Ministry of Health believes that FBOs has a lot to offer in terms of promoting and changing lifestyles and behaviour.
“We have found that children getting diabetes and the complications of diabetes are getting younger and younger. Our youngest case of diabetes is aged 12 years and our youngest case of stroke is also said to be aged 12 very alarming and concerning.
“The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is looking closely at the area of nutrition and exercise. The choices will rest on individuals and we will need parents to monitor and guide their children’s diet. The Ministry is also working with Ministry of Education in terms of the implementation of the School Health Policy. We have urged the school management to assist us in ensuring the policy is in place with measures taken to monitor things sold at the school canteens,” Minister Akbar elaborated.
The Ministry in partnership with Diabetes Fiji is looking forward for strengthened partnership with Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) through undertaking the following programs:
• Parenting needs to be strengthened in terms of giving children quality foods and exercise
• Violence against women and girls needs to be addressed as these are the key targets for promoting healthy choices in the family.
• FBOs menus needs to be established for meeting so as to promote healthy diet
• FBOs should consider physical activity calendar in their organizations
• All adults in the FBOs must be screened and community health committees should take lead role in awareness raising on diabetes prevention.
• All members who are registered diabetics must be encouraged to attend clinics and take their medications.
• Encourage peer groupings in the FBOs so that they can share positive stories on disease management

Minister Akbar acknowledged the Diabetes Fiji and all stakeholders for their continued commitment and partnership with the Ministry of Health in the endeavour to fight the Non- Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) in Fiji.
Chairman of Diabetes Fiji, Dr Wahid Khan outlined the new measures that will be taken to curb diabetes in Fiji.

“This is history in making in the sense we had never had a walk like this with so many faith groups and young people showing their support for the event. We are going to intensify our reachout to communities in terms of managing diabetes. Our incidence of diabetes is increasing and for us to address it we need the support of FBO’s. We realize that any change that has to happen will happen within your homes.

“In the next several years we have some very interesting programs coming out and one of them is teaching about NCD’s and Diabetes in the primary schools. We are putting together a project and we will identify those children who are at high risk of Diabetes and put them through a program so that they reverse their risk and become healthy,” Mr Khan said.

Speaking on behalf of LDS Church (Latter Day Saints) Mr Dean Clark thanked the Health Ministry for taking a proactive approach to raise awareness in diabetes. A collaborative approach, he said will go a long way to educate and inform families on the prevention of Non- Communicable Diseases in Fiji.

Some of the recent strategies undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services to holistically address NCD’s in Fiji are as follows:
• Endorsed the National Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Plan 2016-2020
• Endorsed the creation of a multisectoral Committee on NCD
• Initiated the Free Milk Program for Class one students in Fiji
• Initiated the Free Medicine Scheme for Fiji
• Collaboration with NGOs like Diabetes Fiji, Cancer Society, Counterstroke Fiji, Cure Kids and many more.
• Improvement in clinical specialist services in the area of heart, kidneys, eye, stroke, and other clinical services
• Improvement in the Public Health services in the areas of wellness promotion, community screenings, early referral and SOPD Specialist Outpatient Department (SOPD) services.