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.

Closing and Launch the National Nutrition Survey 2014 in the Western Division

VENUE:  Ministry of Forestry Conference Room, Lautoka

Date: 14TH NOVEMBER 2014

Divisional Managers


Facilitators in the National Nutrition Survey Training, Western Division


Congratulations, this week’s training confirms that the 2014 National Nutrition Survey is happening in the West! We know how difficult it is to plan and organise surveys of this magnitude. It requires dedication and commitment to accomplish the tasks.

The prospect of gathering new information that will enable us to make comparisons with the past situation is exciting, because it will tell us how things have changed overtime (for the better or worse!) and how effective our intervention programmes have been. Being able to continue gathering nutrition related data every 10 years is an achievement in itself. We should be proud of this – we are the only Pacific Island country that has done this since 1983 on a regular basis.

I would like to stress the importance of the work you are about to embark on, which relates to the value of data. A lot of important decisions are based on the information that you are going out to gather, therefore, you need to put in your best effort to gather reliable information.

I am sure the training you have undergone throughout this week has provided you with the required knowledge and skills to carry out the data collection exercise and I urge you to continue to seek clarification with your coordinators on areas which you are not too sure about.

We all know that we have serious nutrition-related problems such as under-nutrition (anaemia amongst women, malnutrition amongst infants & young children) and over-nutrition (obesity).  The survey findings will give us further insights into why these problems have persisted. Such information will provide guidance on the formulation of evidence- informed policies and intervention programmes.

There have been an increasing number of surveys being undertaken in Fiji which will make your work even more challenging so it is important that you prepare yourself well before visiting selected households in your survey sites. Households need to be convinced that the time they spend with you answering the many questions in the survey will benefit everyone in Fiji.

Your approach to the householders, your patience and your professionalism are important in winning their confidence to cooperate with you.

With those words, I wish to add my best wishes in the challenging work ahead of you and I have much pleasure in declaring the NNS Training close and Launch the National Nutrition Survey for the Western Division.


Launch of Khana Kakana Cook Book

Venue: FNU School of Food and Beverages

Date: 6th November 2014


Development Partners,

Representatives of the various Civil Societies,

Representatives of the media,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Hundreds of Fijians are dying today from a disease—-hundreds are dying or falling sick because of their own poor choices.

Hundreds of Fijians are falling sick and indeed dying right now because of NCDS.

We are losing the battle against non-communicable diseases. It is very likely that every person here has already experienced the sickness or even death of a family member from NCDs.

I said earlier that we are losing the battle against NCDS..but I believe that we can make inroads on NCDS..that we can have an impact on it.

That is why I am glad to be here today, because what we launch here today is something that can help this country get back on track.

I am told that the Khana Kakana is the first of its kind, a completely Fijian guide to eating simple, healthy and affordable recipes that uses locally grown, seasonal produce.

Khana Kakana is a healthy cookbook that will give Fijians the information and inspiration they need to change their diets and get healthy.

November is NCD month…so this is just the right time to launch this booklet and to promote healthy ways of living.

NCD’s like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and lung disease are crippling our great nation. They are the biggest killers in Fiji.

We throw up our hands and we get scared when we hear about Ebola and HIV/AIDS. All these diseases are dangerous but they have a far smaller impact on this country than NCDS. Diabetes rates in Fiji and the Pacific are among the highest in the world.

We need to start shouting and getting agitated about NCDs and its effect on our people. It affects those that get sick and it affects everybody else because it affects the economy of this nation.

The problem is , that NCDs and its impacts creeps up on us. NCDS develop slowly and because of this is we do not panic when we hear of NCDS.

However, the stark reality is that 80% of deaths in Fiji are NCD related.

NCDs are having an impact on life expectancy and families are losing their loved ones earlier than expected. Our health system and our economy are struggling under the burden of NCD’s.

The most important thing however is that we are robbing ourselves of longer, healthier and happier lives and a lot of this has to do with unhealthy lifestyles and bad habits that lay the foundation for NCD’s to develop.

We Fijians love our food and we love life, you can’t have one without the other, but your enjoyment of each all depends on quality and quantity.

Right now, many is not most of our food choices are bad ones, we are turning away from the most perfect, healthy, natural and nutritious foods that grow on our islands and instead, we are eating unnatural, low quality, plastic- packaged foods that are high in chemicals like fat, sugar and salt. These foods are making us sick.

All around us, in our villages, in our backyards we have plots of land, little pieces of land that can be used to plant vegetables. This is something we can all start doing.

We have become too dependent on foods that are harmful to our health because we have changed our lifestyle from subsistence living where we grow, catch and eat our own natural foods, to relying on low quality foods that can be bought from the shops.

That is something we must change.

We, as individuals, have the power to improve our health, and to lower our risk of NCD’s with a wellness approach; eat healthy, natural foods, exercise daily, drink less alcohol and more water and stop smoking.

These simple steps are the building blocks for a healthier and happier life.

Your health is in your hands, and with this cookbook in your hands, you have everything you need to take control of your health, and your future.

The cookbook launches today on the Ministry of Health’s Facebook page, available for online viewing and download and we have several thousand hard copies to giveaway.

It holds 48 beautifully designed pages of health advice, healthy recipes, gardening tips and Fijian stories of wellness, and it is completely free.

Khana Kakana gives you the why and the how of healthy eating, so all we need now is a commitment from you to change your life for the better.

This cookbook was developed by the Ministry of Health’s Wellness Unit and would not have been possible without the generous support of our partners:

  • Red Cross Australia’s Small Grants Program and Australian Volunteers for International Development.
  • Funding support from the Australian High Commission’s Direct Aid Program and the Fiji Health Sector Support Program.
  • We would also like to thank Fiji National University Food and Beverage school for their support of this launch and their help in preparing the delicious, healthy lunch you are about to eat!

There were many people that the team met along the road to making this cookbook, they shared recipes, and smiles and were the inspiration for this cookbook, some are also featured in these pages, we would like to thank them for their time and their inspiring stories too.

Our wish for a longer life is in our hands. And it really depends on our eating habits.

We hope this cookbook inspires you to live a beautiful and healthy life, a longer life and a life free from disease.