Photo: Diabetes education session in Tonga, supported by SPC
This year’s theme for World Diabetes Day is ‘education to protect tomorrow’. It is a recognition that today we have more access to science literature and resources to improve the quality of our lives than at any time in history.
However, the statistics reported around health and in particular diabetes remain alarming. Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) have some of the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world, with approximately one-third of adult population suffering from this condition!
As Director of the Public Health Division at the Pacific Community (SPC), and having lived and worked in the region, I often hear it being said that education starts at home. How we raise our children has a direct influence to their decisions and choices for a quality life. However, a more holistic and whole of society approach is required to ensure we are providing resilient solutions to address increasing health issues.
2022 is the second year of the World Diabetes Day 2021 -2023 campaign ‘Access to Diabetes Care: If not now, When?’ It is calling on all stakeholders, regional and national, to increase investment in diabetes care and services.
Over the years I have seen the development of many useful resources and information about diabetes and health contextualised for our Pacific people. SPC’S Public Health Division and its non-communicable diseases (NCD) programme works actively in the region to support PICTs in turning the tide against NCDs.
While we have resources about diabetes available for everyone to use, we have also worked with PICTs and our partners to develop technical information on diabetes for health professionals and educators. To enhance diabetes education, PICTs have been using diabetes education package for health workers and educational materials for persons living with diabetes developed by SPC.
With the increasing number of people living with diabetes, it is critical that healthcare professionals know how to provide the best available care. And for people living with diabetes, it is crucial that they are supported and empowered with uninterrupted access to medicine, care, and education to understand their condition and carry out required self-care to stay healthy and avoid complications.
We are currently providing technical, and resource support to Cook Islands, FSM, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, Niue, and Tuvalu Ministries of Health to increase accessibility of diabetes prevention and care services. Furthermore, SPC has been providing support to civil society organisations, for example, supporting Tonga Diabetes Association to develop their National Diabetes Strategy 2023 – 2027 which will be launched during their celebration of World Diabetes Day 2022, and Tuvalu Diabetes Association to strengthen diabetes outreach actions.
SPC is committed to working in partnership with governments, relevant civil societies, and other partners to empower and strengthen accessibility of quality diabetes care and ongoing education to reduce the consequences of diabetes on our Pacific communities.
- Elisiva Na'ati, Non-Communicable Diseases Adviser, Pacific Community, Public Health Division | elisivan [at] spc.int
- Evlyn Mani, Information and Communications Officer, Pacific Community, Public Health Division | evlynm [at] spc.int