Guam Diabetes Coalition Aims To Reduce Disease By 20% By 2020

Multi-stakeholder group presents 5-year strategic plan to improve public health

By Kyla P Mora

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March 25, 2017) – After a morning of diabetes education and health evaluation services, representatives from the Guam Diabetes Control Coalition, Guam Department of Public Health and Human Services and other program stakeholders presented their 5-year strategic plan to reduce diabetes on Guam 20 percent by the year 2020.

More than 40 partners were included in the planning process to develop the plan, said coalition chair Jina Rojas.

The strategic plan rests on four pillars: data, policy, prevention and health promotion, and clinical services.

One major goal of phase one of the plan will be to create a diabetes registry, Rojas said. By compiling data and aligning with existing initiatives, the coalition hopes to design an information system that could be accessed by participating medical professionals, with the goal of providing a comprehensive picture of diabetes in the Guam population.

The plan also calls for a legislative policy to be enacted by 2020 which would tax sugar-sweetened beverages and channel tax revenues toward diabetes prevention and control.

Lack of education about sugary drinks and sodas, Rojas said, is one of the major issues the coalition sees in all age demographics suffering from diabetes.

At a display table showing the amount of sugar in various drinks, Guam Memorial Hospital dietetic technician Kristy Joy Mary said that visitors were perpetually surprised at the amount of sugar contained in their favorite drinks.

“People can’t believe it, especially how much sugar is in cans of coconut juice, aloe vera juice drinks and Gatorade,” Mary said. “We’re trying to educate people.”

According to Rojas, people aged 35 to 54 are dying in the highest numbers from complications from diabetes.

“But our youngest patient with diabetes is five years old, so we know there’s a problem across all the age ranges,” Rojas said.

Another major hurdle is lack of health coverage, Rojas said.

“We have a lot of folks with no access to health care, and we don’t know where to send them. They come to the screenings and have dangerously high blood sugar, and no insurance, so you have to send them to emergency care because they’re at risk for stroke and coma,” Rojas said. “So we’re hoping to see some policy development in that too.”

Pacific Daily News
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