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The 2016 Diabetes Foot Care Symposium

June 16, 2016       Southern Cross Hotel, Suva

•    Honourable Jone Usamate, Minister for Health and Medical Services
•    Mr Bent Nielson World Diabetes Federation
•    Dr Wahid Khan Chairman Diabetes Fiji
•    Distinguished Guests
•    Ladies and Gentlemen


Namaste, Ni Sa Bula Vinaka and Good Evening to you all.

I find it increasingly rewarding attending any gathering where I can promote my message on Non-Communicable Diseases. I welcomed this additional role with open arms when the Honourable Minister for Health and Medical Services extended the invitation to be Fiji’s Champion in the fight against NCDs.

Tonight’s gathering for the Diabetes Foot Care Symposium is even more meaningful as Diabetes in itself is a major NCD, which accounts for the second-highest rate of NCD-related deaths in Fiji.

In fact, the three leading causes of disability and deaths in Fiji are ischemic heart diseases, diabetes and stroke.

I am advised that one in three adults in Fiji have diabetes. I am also advised that a lower limb amputation occur every 12 hours. This amounts to two lower limb amputations per day!

I am also advised, and I am very alarmed to know, that the diabetes trend in Fiji is projected to continue increasing, driven by rising obesity causing premature deaths and life expectancy of less than 70 years!

Diabetes is caused by four main lifestyle factors: Smoking, poor Nutrition, Alcohol and Physical Inactivity. The acronym is SNAP.

Additionally, poor diabetes control causes complications, which our health experts have termed as SNAKE.

SNAKE stands for complications to the Skin, Nerves, Arteries, Kidneys and Eyes.

The main strategy of the Fijian Government through the Ministry for Health and Medical Services is to control SNAP to prevent SNAKE!

For this to happen, all Fijians must choose a healthy lifestyle. We need to eat healthy and balanced diets. We need to be physically active by doing regular exercises on a daily basis. We need to quit smoking and reduce our consumption of kava and alcohol. We also need to have enough rest including having adequate sleep. Choosing a healthy lifestyle is the only way we can reduce the risk of contracting NCDs.

Importantly, we need to shift the spectrum of thinking from curative to preventative. This will go a long way in controlling diabetes and causing premature deaths.

This brings us to the reason for our gathering here tonight, which is to listen to your success stories in dealing with foot care.

I am aware that the foot care programme aims to reduce foot sepsis through training our nurses to be skilful in looking after the feet of people with diabetes.

I look forward to hearing about your experiences. I have every confidence that the lessons learnt would contribute to making a difference in how Fiji as a Nation works towards eradicating NCDs.

I would like to thank all the nurses for your commitment to your duties. Yours is very noble profession. I am aware that it is often times a thankless role!

I also wish to convey Fiji’s sincere appreciation to the World Diabetes Federation represented tonight by Mr Bent Nielson. Thank you for providing the much-needed funds to support this foot care project. In doing so, you are helping Fiji to effectively deal with diabetes and NCDs.

I acknowledge the work of the Diabetes Fiji for your leadership in the implementation of the project. A multi-sectorial collaboration model like this offers hope in our fight against this deadly scourge.

As Fiji’s Champion in the campaign against NCDs, I pledge to do my part and to lead by example in taking every opportunity to encourage all our people to choose a healthy lifestyle so that we can live longer, healthier and happier lives.

I thank you for your invitation to me tonight.

Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad and May God Bless Fiji.