HEALTH EXPERTS BATTLE DIABETES IN KOSRAE

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By Olivier Wortel

Special to Pacific Island Report

KOSRAE, FSM (Pacific Island Report, Dec. 30) - Diabetes is a chronic killer throughout Micronesia and Kosrae is no exception. There is a veritable cottage industry devoted to transient specialists, biologists, nutritionists, and other off-island health care professionals who come here to do study upon study over the causes and effects of diabetes in Kosrae.

To tackle this chronic problem that runs like a plague across Micronesia, the non-governmental organization Kosrae Diabetes Today (KDT) was established here in October.

KDT, which was formerly overseen by Dr. Vita Skilling at the Public Health Department, has a membership of almost 400. The organization is training to diabetes specialists within each municipality of Kosrae. The trainers perform routine medical checkups and advise on the benefits of exercise and nutrition.

One recent statewide survey by Rockefeller University and the Kosrae Department of Health found that the prevalence of diabetes in Kosrae is the third highest in Micronesia, and that over one-third of adults 50 and older have an advanced and severe form of diabetes known as Diabetes Mellitus Type II.

Skilling writes that diabetes is "a related cause to many of the adult hospitalizations each year…contributes to more than 75% of the surgical admissions and over 90% of the lower limb amputations and/or surgical complications annually."

A growing trend toward developing agencies outside of the government, KDT has a broad cross section of support and participation by women’s, church, municipal and state government, business, public health, and youth groups.

The advantage, according to Maheta Kilafwasru, Mayor of Malem Municipality and President of KDT, is in increased flexibility to address the pressing health problem and also in garnering outside sources of revenue. Mayor Kilafwasru stated that grantor agencies are often more willing to lend support to NGO’s rather than government affiliates. Government resources, he stated, could then potentially match these funds.

Recently, KDT hired a grant writer to obtain funds to meet some initial goals.

December 30, 2002

Pacific Island Reports

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