DIABETES ON RAPID RISE IN TONGA

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By Radio Tonga News

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Radio Tonga News, Nov. 15) - The Minister of Health, Dr. Viliami Tangi has called on parents, schools, youths, church and the community to work hand in hand in the fight against diabetes.

Tangi, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, makes the appeal in his national address to mark World Diabetic Day yesterday.

He says this year's event is paying more attention on children, as they are also prone to becoming diabetic. That is, he says if parents neglect their role to look after them well.

He adds parents should be proactive in providing children with healthy and nutritious food and also encourage them to exercise.

The Minister of Health says diabetes is a worldwide problem, as it not only affects adults but young children as well. There are more than 240 million children with diabetes globally according to Tangi.

According to the Ministry of Health's survey on diabetes in 1973, seven percent [in Tonga] were reported to have diabetes. But in a similar survey in 2004, Tangi says the rate goes up to about 20 percent. The Minister says if we don't monitor this well it is likely to increase to 25 percent in the next ten years.

To counter the problem Tangi says his ministry and key stakeholders will continue to highlight the importance of caring for children now and to ensure they also live a healthy lifestyle in the future.

Dr. Taniela Palu of the Diabetic Clinic supports the minister's initiative. Palu says the focus should be on measures to reduce overweight and obesity that cause diabetes.

He says the United Nations is observing World Diabetic Day for the first time in a joint effort with the World Health Organisation and the International Diabetic Federation.

Palu says the UN is now considering diabetes as one of the most killing communicable diseases which prompted the organizations’ commitment to reduce child mortality rate as outlined under the Millennium Development Goals.

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