Alarming levels of diabetes found in Fiji
Early results from a Fiji eye health survey by The Fred Hollows Foundation NZ have revealed alarming levels of diabetes
amongst people over 40. A staggering four out of every ten people screened were found to have diabetes, and more
worryingly, a third of these were unaware of their condition. Fijian Indians were shown to be most at risk with over
half of those screened having diabetes.
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health estimates 9% of people aged over 40 have diabetes. The survey, the first of its
kind in Fiji, was undertaken by Hollows NZ after seeing increasing numbers of people with diabetic eye disease, which
can be blinding if not detected and treated early enough.
The impact of this epidemic on an already overstretched health system should not be underestimated, notes Hollows NZ’s
International Program Director, Dr Tom Schaefer. “The survey results will be invaluable in refining the diabetes eye
health service we set up in September through Hollows NZ training centre, the Pacific Eye Institute, in partnership with
the Colonial War Hospital.”
An important part of this service will be training eye health professionals in diabetic eye disease diagnosis and
treatment. Doctors and technicians from Fiji, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Tonga will start training at Hollows NZ’s
Pacific Eye Institute from February 2010.