April 9, 2021

Adventists Launch Initiative to Fight the Diabetes Epidemic in Kiribati

Tracey Bridcutt, Adventist Record, and Adventist Review

People living in the remote Pacific nation of Kiribati now have access to health check-ups and workshops through a new wellness hub run by Seventh-day Adventists.

The Tarawa Wellness Hub, on the main island of South Tarawa, is being supported by the 10,000 Toes campaign, an initiative committed to turning the tide of diabetes to save lives and limbs before they are negatively impacted by diabetes.

The program was launched in Kiribati on February 28, 2021. The launch, broadcast on Hope Radio, was attended by the country’s vice president, Teuea Toatu, and his wife, Brucetta, and Kiribati Mission president Taabua Rokeatau and his wife, Raobe.

Toatu was reportedly very impressed with the wellness hub, which is run by Teera Katarake, 10,000 Toes lead ambassador in Kiribati, with assistance from an enthusiastic team of health workers. After the launch, more than 50 people visited the center requesting health check-ups, and they were introduced to the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP).

Like other Pacific nations, Kiribati is in the midst of a health crisis due to lifestyle diseases. According to 2019 health data, 81 percent of Kiribati’s population is obese, with 36 percent not meeting the World Health Organization’s recommended physical activity guidelines. In 2019, 96 people had limbs amputated due to diabetes.

Katarake said funds are urgently needed to buy a vehicle to do health check-ups and workshops in remote communities, visit schools to do health talks and screenings, and follow up with people on the CHIP program.

“Hiring trucks here is very expensive, and it would be better to have our own transport,” she said. “We are in terrible need of transport.”

The 10,000 Toes campaign is an initiative of health ministries at the South Pacific Division in partnership with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Australia. It looks to equip every Pacific village with the skills and tools to conduct community health assessments for the early detection of diabetes and other related chronic diseases. It also seeks to train and equip lifestyle coaches to implement programs to prevent, arrest, and reverse Type 2 diabetes in every village. Finally, it strives to improve the capacity of health professionals working in health systems across the South Pacific to manage diabetes.

10,000 Toes coordinator Pam Townend said 30 screening kits have been sent to Kiribati as a result of generous donations to the campaign.

“We are very excited by the launch of 10,000 Toes in Kiribati and what it’s going to mean for this isolated country,” she said. “And we look forward to seeing a drop in amputations in the years to come.”

The original version of this story was posted by Adventist Record.