The Pacific Community (SPC) hosted the inaugural Pacific Diabetes Associations Meeting in Nadi on September 20 to 21, a regional meeting to strengthen Pacific diabetes associations and enhance collaboration to address the diabetes epidemic in the Pacific.
The meeting was attended by representatives from 12 Pacific Islands countries and territories, who met to strengthen efforts to tackle diabetes across the Pacific region. The meeting, convened by SPC in collaboration with partner agencies, brings together representatives from Pacific countries’ diabetes associations, governments, development partners and other stakeholders.
During the meeting, participants identified opportunities to foster the growth and development of Pacific diabetes associations. The meeting was also an opportunity to promote knowledge exchange and sharing of evidence-based best practice for improved diabetes prevention and care.
Participants also developed an ‘action plan’ for their national diabetes association, identifying future focus areas, potential collaborative initiatives, and areas where support is needed to strengthen the role and function of their diabetes association. Following this meeting, SPC and development partners will support national diabetes associations to implement these action plans, in order to ensure Pacific diabetes associations are robust, well-functioning and can speak up for the needs and rights of people with diabetes.
Diabetes is a major health and development challenge in the Pacific. Pacific Island countries and territories have some of the highest rates of diabetes in the world. Results from health surveys indicate diabetes rates among people aged 25-64 are 47% in American Samoa, 35% in Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, and 24% in Cook Islands. These statistics are much higher than in neighbouring Australia, where approximately 5% of people have diabetes, and much greater than the estimated global prevalence of 10%.
The Director of SPC’s Public Health Division, Dr Paula Vivili, recognises the key role of diabetes associations in the Pacific. “Diabetes associations play an important role in tackling diabetes, for example by advocating to policy makers to invest more on prevention and control of diabetes; and by educating people with diabetes, and the wider community, about healthier lifestyles. This meeting has enabled countries to share experiences in diabetes prevention and care, and strengthened collaboration between diabetes associations, governments and other stakeholders across the Pacific,” Dr Vivili said.
As the region’s principal scientific and technical organisation, SPC’s Public Health Division provides technical support to Pacific Island countries and territories to strengthen political leadership and multi-sectoral engagement on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including diabetes; support NCD policy and legislation development, and build capacity to implement NCD activities and monitor progress. SPC is committed to working together with our member countries and territories, and our partners, to ensure a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to turning the tide on diabetes and other NCDs in the Pacific.
Elisiva Na’ati, SPC Public Health Nutrition Adviser, elisivan [at] spc.int or +679 8034487
Jean-Noel Royer, SPC Communication Officer, jeannoelr [at] spc.int or +687 877063