World Diabetes Day Launching

Venue:  Nadi Civic Centre
Date:  14th November 2014

Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Good Morning

–                Distinguished guests, teachers, students, ladies, gentlemen and valued members of the community,

I have the pleasure to be here today with you all to launch the World Diabetes Day for Fiji, here in Nadi Town. When we speak of ‘launching’ this day, there is no celebration to be had. We are not celebrating the presence of Diabetes in our communities, but rather trying to raise awareness, educate and motivate our people to help prevent, reverse and stop this killer disease.

As many of you know (Type 2) Diabetes is one of our main non-communicable diseases, or what we call ‘NCD’s’ in Fiji.  Currently, 80% of deaths in Fiji are due ‘NCD’s’. These are ‘lifestyle diseases’ and occur when we adopt unhealthy behaviours like smoking, eating an unhealthy diet, drinking too much alcohol/yagoona and not engaging in physical activity. These are not diseases you catch from other people, but occur as a result of how we choose to live our lives.

During the….conference in Honiara in 2011, the NCD’s status of the pacific was decalared a ‘crisis’

As many of us now know, Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death for our people in Fiji. This disease does not discriminate.  It affects people from all cultures and backgrounds, male or female, young or old, rich or poor.

According to WHO, worldwide, one person will die from Diabetes every 8 seconds. In Fiji, currently 30% of people have Diabetes and this number is expected to reach 50% in the next 5-10 years if this crisis continues to be ignored. It is estimated that there is 1 lower limb amputation every 12 hours, which means 2 per day and aprox. 730 in one year. The youngest Type 2 Diabetic in Fiji is only 11 years old.

The presence of Diabetes has significant consequences on maintaining our own health and ‘wellness’ in life., Wellness incorporates the body, the mind and the spirit at all stages in our lives. We know that diabetes leads to devastating health outcomes. This can include blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, disability through amputations, erectile dysfunction (sexual problems in males), heart disease, stroke and premature death.

The WHO states that any person that dies before the age of 70 has died prematurely – that means, they’ve died before their time. For Fiji, due to our NCD crisis we have lowered that rate to 60 years of age as many people will not reach the average lifespan that is enjoyed by others in the world.

Diabetes affects each and every one of us from an individual, community and national level.

Individually, a person with diabetes faces countless burdens of this chronic disease on a daily basis. Maintaining blood sugar levels, controlling their diet, taking care of their feet and taking medication are just some of the problems faced daily by those suffering this disease.

The complications of Diabetes leads to increased illness, time off work and increased financial strain on ourselves, our families, our communities and our nation as a whole. For NCD’s, our government allocates $400,000 each year to prevent these lifestyle disease that are killing our people. Imagine what our nation could do with these funds if we were not at this crisis point with NCD’s.

Why is our rate of Diabetes so high?

The answer is quite simple. We have gone from a healthy lifestyle to an unhealthy one. Smoking, a diet high in fat, salt and sugar, our alcohol/kava intake and our lack of physical activity have led to the rise in these NCD’s, particularly Diabetes. Our diet has transitioned from our traditional culture:

  • Changing from traditional staple foods to refined foods,
  •  Instead of fresh local food à eating processed foods,
  •  Increase in individuals calorie consumption from past years to present, that is portion size, –  we choose quantity over quality 

What can we do?

It comes down to 3 things, our mouth, our muscles and our mind.

We need to create positive behaviour change in ourselves to create healthier lifestyles.

We need to focus on the gifts of life to be ‘well’ and stay ‘well’. This means:

  • Breathing –  fresh air (no smoking)
  • Eating a healthy diet… low salt, sugar, fat… eating 5 serves of fruits/vegetables each day
  • Drinking – water…. Limiting alchohol, /kava
  • Moving – getting your 30 mins of moderate intensity exercise each day
  • Thinking – positive thinking. Motivate yourself and your family to choose healthy behaviours.
  • Resting – sleeping 6- 8 hours/ night
  • Reproducing – (at right age)

(Closing statement suggestion)

 From Michelle Obama:

We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on every part of every menu. We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize quality over quantity. And we can help create a culture – imagine this – where our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting them.

 Thank you all for your attendance & I declare the Western Division World Diabetes Day Launching open.

God Bless Fiji.