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Health officials seeing younger patients

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 17, 2009) – Diabetes is a silent killer and statistics have shown that ‘you are what you eat’ and nowadays the victims are as young as in their thirties.

This is the shocking revelation as confirmed by the Vila Central Hospital Superintendent Doctor Willie Tokon yesterday morning.

He made the remarks following a presentation by the Ministry of Health on the Summery Outcomes of "Building Capacity – Reducing Diabetes Complications: A Pacific Model" Project at USP Emalus Campus.

It is a three year project funded by the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF).

Acting Director General of the Ministry of Health, Len Tarivonda said the project is running over three years and aims to develop a model of diabetes care that achieves optimal diabetes health outcomes within the unique circumstances and constraints that prevail in Vanuatu.

Specifically he said the project focuses on increasing the capacity of Vanuatu to reduce eye kidney and foot problems resulting from diabetes by improving the quality, accessibility and effectiveness of the care of people with diabetes.

Commenting on the statistics of the findings, Dr Tokon said the drastic change in the way that today’s generation of young people live definitely has an increasing impact on their health.

He also urged medical personnel working on the disease to network with the Theatre saying to collect statistics from there.

He said amputating a toe of leg has become a regular operation and it shows the deteriorating health of young people who are supposed to be the providers for their families as well as the economy of the nation.

In his experience over the years, he said the biggest fear that can lead to amputation is a fear of syringe or possible amputation. Often the patient with a swollen toe or leg backs down from getting medical treatment in the hospital and turns to "custom medicine".

Asked if he believes custom or leaf medicine cures diabetes, Dr Tokon said no medical survey has been carried out to confirm the truth but that those that choose to seek custom treatment end up returning with badly distorted limbs which are beyond saving and have to be amputated.

Findings will be carried in our next issue.

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