The 10,000 Toes Campaign, an initiative of health ministries at the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has received the 2022 Healthy Island Award in the Best Practice Category from the World Health Organization (WHO) for its work in Fiji.
The award was presented on May 5 by Fiji Minister for Health and Medical Services Ifereimi Waqainabete to South Pacific Division (SPD) president Glenn Townend, who recently spent several days in Fiji to meet with church leaders and members.
The award recognizes the work that 10,000 Toes is doing in helping to address the epidemic of lifestyle diseases, particularly diabetes, in the Pacific region.
“It is a privilege to be acknowledged for our work in this area of lifestyle medicine,” 10,000 Toes coordinator for the South Pacific Pam Townend said. “We know this would not have been possible without our dedicated ambassadors and the organizations that support us.”
The Fiji chapter of 10,000 Toes has more than 2,000 ambassadors working to turn the tide on diabetes, according to regional ambassador George Kwong.
“We currently have a number of wellness hubs where health screening and Lifestyle Intervention Programs are delivered. Our goal is to have over 100 wellness hubs operating by the end of 2025,” Kwong said.
Townend said the 10,000 Toes Campaign is not only happening in Fiji but has a presence in six other countries. The campaign currently operates five mobile clinics, has trained more than 4,000 ambassadors, upskilled 101 professionals, provided over 954 screening kits and tested over 10,000 people for diabetes.
“Our work is not over until every village in the Pacific has had an opportunity to go on a health journey,” Townend said. “We look forward to this challenge.”
Campaign coordinators believe that when evidence-based lifestyle medicine is integrated with conventional medicine it can prevent, arrest and, in some cases, reverse lifestyle diseases.
“Educating and empowering people to make positive lifestyle choices and experience whole-person health is core to our philosophy,” Geraldine Przybylko, health strategy leader for the SPD, said.
“Whole-person health can be defined through the seven dimensions of wellness: emotional thriving, physically energized, socially connected, vocationally enriched, spiritually empowered, intellectually engaged, and environmentally attuned,” Przybylko added.
“Not only will lives and limbs be saved, but people’s lives will be transformed as the 10,000 Toes Campaign partners with the World Health Organization, governments, and organizations to turn the tide on diabetes and other chronic diseases.
“We invite you to be part of this story to bring health, healing and hope to the South Pacific like never before.”
Current statistics show that every 20 minutes someone in the South Pacific has a limb amputated due to diabetes, and this is having terrible ramifications on local communities. Livelihoods are being affected, families impacted, and governments burdened.