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NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (November 16, 1999 – Radio Australia)---Tongan health officials say the incidence of diabetes in the Kingdom is rising due to poor diets and a lack of exercise, with more than half of the cases of the disease occurring on the capital island of Tongatapu.

Tonga's Health Minister, Dr. Viliame Tangi, reported that the cost of treating the disease is now running into the tens of thousands of dollars.

He said in many cases patients must be sent to New Zealand for diagnosis and treatment, with the travel costs borne by the patient and family members.

Dr. Tangi said that last year alone more than $30,000 was spent on drugs, medication, insulin, syringes and other equipment necessary for diabetes treatment.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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