Sort-2 Diabetes might hit quarter of NZ’s Pacific inhabitants


A quarter of the Pacific population in New Zealand is well on its way to becoming Type 2 diabetic by 2040.

The projected epidemic was the main finding of a new report on the disease, which has already affected Pasifika twice as often as the general population.

Pacific Health Champions at the parliamentary launch of the new diabetes research.
Photo: Dominic Godfrey / RNZ Pacific

The report on the economic and social costs of type 2 diabetes put the annual chronic disease bill at NZD 2.1 billion.

Unabated, costs could be reduced to $ 3.5 billion by 2040, an increase of 63 percent.

At this point in time, one in four Pacific people had been diagnosed with the disease, compared to less than one in 20 people in the general population.

The comparison has significantly eased the health inequalities, which continued to widen for Pasifika.

However, the report also offered hope for new ways to better understand the effects of type 2 diabetes on people in the Pacific.

The managing director of Fono, Tevita Funaki

The managing director of Fono, Tevita Funaki
Photo: Dominic Godfrey / RNZ Pacific

Auckland Pacific’s health and social services provider, Fono, has partnered with the community to provide advice and data for research.

Community input should ensure that the voices in the Pacific are clearly articulated, said Tevita Funaki, chief executive of Fono.

“I hope this research will help inform guidelines that are much friendlier in terms of addressing the challenges in the Pacific communities,” he said.

“It also helped raise some funding regarding the interventions that actually help support the Pasifika families.”

Type 2 diabetes is a social and economic challenge for Pasifika, but also the lack of cultural literacy in the health sector, Funaki added.

Māori Health Minister Peeni Henare said he wanted justice to be naturally embedded in health sector reform.

“We have a multitude of opportunities here to examine the entire health system in order to change something,” said Henare.

Deputy Minister of Health (Māori Health) Peeni Henare speaks at the start of new health research on type 2 diabetes

Deputy Minister of Health (Māori Health) Peeni Henare speaks at the start of new health research on type 2 diabetes
Photo: Dominic Godfrey / RNZ Pacific

One of the report’s Pacific researchers, Tupa’ilevaililigi Dr. Ridvan Tupa’i-Firestone said she was pleased with the support from the two ministers. However, she added that greater cohesion across the health sector is needed to understand the inequalities experienced by Pasifika communities and families.

“How do we actually work together, not just within communities but across the health sector?” asked Tupa’i-Firestone.

Part of the answer is that more Pasifika health professionals are working in all sectors to reverse deteriorating statistics.

Representative health workers

Pasifika biomedical scientist and researcher Dianne Sika-Paotonu, in her role as Associate Dean Pacific at the University of Otago Medical School in Wellington, emphasized the importance of “ensuring we have an adequate healthcare workforce the populations that represent. ” it tries to serve. “

But it was one of many answers to ensure equitable health outcomes were being achieved for pasifika.

Matire Ropiha has the disease and is one of three generations of diabetes patients.

“And when I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I thought of the trip my mother and my mother’s mother had traveled. And so it influenced me to want to prevent diabetes from affecting my daughter.”

In order to improve her quality of life, Ropiha made significant dietary changes.

“I don’t eat bread, I don’t eat pasta, I don’t eat rice. I eat the majority is a plant-based diet and I fast every day. And so I can lower my blood sugar levels in a way that I can then without my diabetes- Medicines can live. “

The report recommended other measures to prevent 15 percent of pasifika currently suffering from type 2 diabetes from turning 25 percent by 2040.

Woman with smoke

Smoking and obesity are targeted in new intervention programs.

As Pasifika has the largest proportion of youth in the country and diabetes is diagnosed at a younger age, the economic toll increases.

Treating diabetes when diagnosed at age 75 had a lifetime cost of $ 44,000, but for those increasingly diagnosed by age 25, the lifetime cost was $ 521,000, a 13-fold increase.

This was a key goal of the four proposed diabetes-specific interventions that aimed for better health outcomes but also offered better economic outcomes.

Targeted lifestyle change programs to prevent Type 2 are said to save the country $ 130 million, while another program to reverse the disease could mean $ 83 million not spent on treatment, with a significant return on investment.

They also fight comorbidities like high blood pressure, obesity, and kidney disease.

The other two interventions are innovations in new diabetes drugs that offer a net benefit of more than $ 1.4 billion. Better foot screening could save 390 lower limbs from annual amputation and over 200 minor amputations.

Another Pasifika health researcher involved with type 2 diabetes called for immediate action.

Dr.  Ofa Dewes from the Maurice Wilkins Center

Dr. Ofa Dewes from the Maurice Wilkins Center
Photo: Dominic Godfrey / RNZ Pacific

Dr. Ofa Dewes, of the Maurice Wilkins Center, said it was important that the health sector work with Pacific communities and families to implement the recommendations made in the research.

“It is important that we all work together here in fellowship with the Maori and Pacific peoples. We know that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in our population increases not only at an older age, but also at a younger age. “

She said existing strategies have failed.

“If we don’t do something differently, we’ll just get the same result.”