Fiji is enlisted to a new initiative the “Global Diabetes Compact” launched by the World Health Organization to bring structure and coherence to the collective efforts in prevention of diabetes and bring the right care to those that need it.  

The Compact provides opportunities to strengthen partnerships between governments and NGOs to support countries to mobilise resources and accelerate structural transformations.

It was launched today at the Global Diabetes Summit, co-hosted by WHO and the Government of Canada, with the support of the University of Toronto. Fijian Prime Minister, Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama joined the Director-General of the World Health Organization Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and representatives of the UN agencies, Government and Non-Government, civil society officials from around the world in launching the compact through a  virtual platform.

In his statement, Prime Minister Bainimarama said that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like diabetes are the greatest health crisis faced by the Pacific people. “I say that knowing full well we are in the midst of a pandemic. Given the cruel manner in which the coronavirus preys on those most vulnerable, few live with the crushing fear of contracting COVID-19 like those living with diabetes.

Those who do need our support more than ever. “Fijians suffer from diabetes well above the global average. Knowing the risk that posed, we acted quickly to keep the virus at bay. It took us 30 days to contain our outbreak of COVID-19, and this month marks one full year since our last local case.” 

Prime Minister Bainimarama said that NCDs are a crisis with no clear end, as it will take far longer than a single month, a single year, or even a medical marvel – like a vaccine – to defeat diseases like diabetes. “Instead, we must change hearts and minds across society by raising awareness about how we stop this disease from stealing so much from our people. 

And we must ensure those who suffer from it can access the best care possible. “In Fiji, around 15% of our population are diagnosed with a type of diabetes. The real prevalence is likely much higher. Regardless, what we do know is shocking: “Fiji loses out on over 400 Million Dollars a year in productivity and our people lose more than 264,000 years of healthy living due to NCDs.

Those are the raw numbers; but they cannot capture the true weight of the pain our people endure. Feeling your mobility slip away, missing time with your children, watching loved ones leave too soon – none of that heartbreak can be calculated.

But it can be averted.” On the actions taken by Fiji, Prime Minister said that, “We are equipping our health facilities to offer better and more affordable healthcare to Fijians living with diabetes and other NCDs. We are helping our people help themselves through access to better information, outdoor recreation, and more nutritious food.

“But the economic crisis that has come with the pandemic puts all that work at-risk. The sooner we get our people vaccinated, the sooner we bring our tourism-driven economy back to life, the more progress we’ll make against this disease. It’s that simple. 

 “Fiji was a proud signatory to the pandemic treaty to protect humanity from a future that looks anything like the past year. Today, we are equally proud to enlist in WHO Global Diabetes Compact. Once again, it is about saving lives through solidarity. Once again, Fiji is ready to play its part,” Prime Minister Bainimarama said. 

“The need to take urgent action on diabetes is clearer than ever,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “The number of people with diabetes has quadrupled in the last 40 years. 

It is the only major non-communicable disease for which the risk of dying early is going up, rather than down. And a high proportion of people who are severely ill in hospital with COVID-19 have diabetes.

The Global Diabetes Compact will help to catalyse political commitment for action to increase the accessibility and affordability of life-saving medicines for diabetes and also for its prevention and diagnosis.”

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