National Federation Party candidate, Sashi Kiran says over the years she has witnessed marked increases in disabilities due to diabetes and it is common to see, when they enter villages and settlements, people living with disabilities struggling to receive care.
In a statement commemorating World Diabetes Day, Kiran says they often see people in the villages waiting to die because they can’t access dialysis.
Kiran says many severe sufferers of diabetes are amputees, who have limited mobility to toilets and bathrooms and if they even have wheelchairs, their wheelchair access in these settings is very limited.
She says reports indicate diseases arising from diabetes are the leading causes of death in the Fijian population and also rank as the highest in causing disabilities.
Kiran says each year on this day they hear promises about improvement but the opposite is happening.
She says during the pandemic it was very obvious that people with chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease were forgotten.
The NFP candidate says the chronic diseases did not go away during the pandemic, but the Health Ministry seemed to think they did.
Kiran says clinics were cancelled and medications were restricted because of COVID restrictions and little or no thought was given to how to get medications to those who still needed them.
She further says many people living with diabetes are unable to get access to medication on time, or at all.
She also says amputees cannot attend clinics as they do not have access to transportation while in other countries, health professionals travel to them – but in the Fijian health system, there is no money for Community Rehabilitation Assistants.
She stresses Fiji has a high rate of end-stage kidney disease where chronic kidney disease is currently the fourth highest cause of death.
Kiran says there has been so much talk about dialysis but very little meaningful help is provided for those with no money.
Kiran stresses we need urgent attention given to NCDs like diabetes as they affect one in three people in Fiji.
She says relevant education, accessible care centre, availability of transportation and mobility devices and reasonable welfare assistance are basic steps.
She also says these must be combined with improved health care facilities and accessible medications on time.
The former CEO and founder of FRIEND Fiji says she knows from her experience that if Government can build meaningful partnerships with community and faith-based organisations, they can provide this help more efficiently and effectively and at less cost.
She says partnership is the key and working together and bringing our resources together is the way to go.
Kiran adds that is what she knows about and that is one of the things she can contribute to change the lives of some of our most vulnerable people. We have also sent questions to the Permanent Secretary of Health, Doctor James Fong. He is yet to respond.
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