By ELIZABETH MIAE
HOPE Worldwide (PNG) in partnership with the Health Department has started a three-year programme to develop diabetes services in the country through funding from the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF).
Doctors have now realised that diabetes is a disease that threatened PNG even more than HIV/AIDS and that much more needed to be done.
Diabetes affects young and old and more people are affected by it in PNG than HIV/AIDS.
It can cause serious medical conditions that will last for decades.
“The situation can only be addressed through a transformation of diabetes services and education,” Hope diabetes programme manager Robert Pugu said.
“The goal of the programme is to improve the quality, effectiveness and accessibility of all aspects of diabetes care and, thereby, reduce the burden of diabetes related complications in PNG,” he said.
The programme has six priority areas which include :
*The training of health professionals in diabetes diagnosis and care;
* Enhanced capacity, effectiveness, and penetration of diabetes health services in the main hospitals seeing diabetic patients;
*The production and distribution of national educational materials;
* Writing, distribution and use of national treatment guidelines;
*The establishment of three community education programmes in areas of high prevalence to lead to primary and secondary prevention; and
*Raised public awareness, and increased reach of the Diabetic Association of PNG.
A survey conducted by Hope showed that 240,000 people were diabetic in the country.
Out of that, only 3, 000 were being cared for in hospitals and clinics while the rest 237,000 were developing complications.
Pugu noted that thousands more would develop various severe complications of diabetes-blindness, diabetic foot disease requiring amputation and die of a heart attack or chronic renal failure at a young age.
“Hundreds of thousands of Papua New Guineans have impaired glucose tolerance and are on the way to developing diabetes,” he added.