Representatives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church recently met with Fiji government non-communicable diseases advisors to discuss the ongoing epidemic of lifestyle diseases in the South Pacific.
Trans-Pacific Union Mission health director Paul Wood and Fiji Mission health director Alipate Vakamocea met with Isimeli Tukana, who serves as non-communicable diseases advisor to the government of Fiji, to see how the Adventist Church and the government can more aggressively tackle the widespread problem of lifestyle diseases, which has reached epidemic levels across the region.
During the meeting, attendees discussed the 10,000 Toes campaign, along with one of the campaign’s key initiatives, the Live More Abundantly program. The 10,000 Toes campaign looks for ways to “[turn] the tide of diabetes in the South Pacific.” According to the initiative’s website, some of its strategies include providing reusable diagnostic kits that give a blood sugar reading, and educating and equipping the people of the Pacific Islands to take charge of their health. It also looks to train doctors and nurses to better diagnose and detect Type 2 Diabetes early and to offer a more holistic approach to treatment.
The rollout of Live More Abundantly, which is a contextualized version of the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP), is being launched in January 2019. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is partnering with Adventist Health in starting this program.
Tukana offered his unreserved support for the program and for the development of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between ADRA and the Ministry of Health in Fiji.
Wood and Vakamocea also met with Elisiva Na’ati, non-communicable disease (NCD) advisor for the Pacific Community (SPC), to discuss the 10,000 Toes campaign and the formation of the South Pacific Society of Lifestyle Medicine (SPSLM). SPC is the major umbrella non-governmental organization (NGO) in the South Pacific.
During the meeting, leaders discussed the key components of the 10,000 Toes campaign strategy, along with the envisaged role the SPSLM will play in training health professionals in lifestyle medicine. They explored future partnership possibilities, with a collective desire agreed upon to continue working toward “stamping out diabetes in the South Pacific.” The SPSLM is a beneficiary of funds raised by the 10,000 Toes campaign.
In August 2019 the SPSLM will host a sitting of the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine (IBLM) board certification exams for Pacific Island health professionals, in Suva, Fiji.
Last year, Seventh-day Adventist church leaders met with Geoffrey Kenilorea, director of the Department of Non-Communicable Diseases for the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health. In that meeting, Adventist leaders pledged to assist the Solomon Islands government to devise a strategy to tackle the huge burden of diabetes that is sweeping that South Pacific nation.