Kidney Foundation appeals for prevention investment

The Head of the National Kidney Foundation has appealed for more investment in lifestyle disease prevention programmes as more patients continue to seek treatment.

The N.K.F. Director, Leituala Dr. Ben Matalavea, told the Samoa Observer that there is a lot of emphasis on the treatment of lifestyle diseases amidst a spike in patient numbers going to the foundation.

“We’re not seeing the end of the process so in the near future, the numbers will keep growing and this is a huge concern to us because we don’t have the money to pour in,” he said in an interview.

“Hence, the money that’s exaggerating on the treatments should be poured upon the prevention side of this issue and that’s the only possible way we can see a change in the increase in these diseases.”

The Director said about 80 per cent or more of 152 patients – who are undergoing dialysis treatment at the N.K.F – are suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, alcohol and hypertension.

He added that these diseases are preventable and the most effective way to address this is to invest funding in prevention strategies. 

Currently, 80 per cent of the foundation’s estimated $100,000 budget goes to funding treatment for patients which should’ve been focused on the prevention side.

Prevention strategies include screening, promotion and the establishment of a system to help workers follow up and recall patients.

The first study to produce trends of Type 2 Diabetes mellitus and obesity in Samoa, based on standardized data from population surveys, states that Type 2 Diabetes mellitus prevalence in Samoa is likely to continue to increase in the near future. Additionally, it is equally prevalent in both sexes and obesity is widespread. 

Over 1978–2013, Type 2 Diabetes mellitus prevalence increased from 1.2 per cent to 19.6 per cent in men (2.3 per cent per 5 years), and from 2.2 per cent to 19.5 per cent in women (2.2 per cent per 5 years). 

Obesity prevalence increased from 27.7 per cent to 53.1 per cent in men (3.6 per cent per 5 years) and from 44.4 per cent to 76.7 per cent (4.5 per cent per 5 years) in women. 

Type 2 Diabetes mellitus and obesity prevalences increased in all age groups. 

From the period trends, Type 2 Diabetes mellitus prevalence in 2020 was projected to be 26 per cent in men and women which Leituala projects could be more than that. 

Projected obesity prevalence is projected to be 59 per cent in men and 81 per cent in women. And Type 2 Diabetes mellitus period trends attributable to BMI increase are estimated as 31 per cent (men) and 16 per cent (women) after adjusting for age.

Dr. Leituala is of the view that the alarming number of lifestyle diseases in Samoa is due to locals abandoning their traditional diet for foods that are high in sugar and cholesterol content.

He added that the shift from eating organically-rich traditional diets is already having a long-term effect on Samoans’ health.

Type 2 Diabetes mellitus and obesity in Samoa have also increased for both sexes and across all age groups between 1978 and 2013, added Dr. Leituala who emphasised that the prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes mellitus is similar between sexes, but obesity is more prevalent in women than men. 

More than one-in-four Samoan adults will have Type 2 diabetes mellitus in 2020 based on period trends, added the Director.

In a bid to address the issue, Dr. Leituala said long-term solutions include identifying the diseases and programmes charged with delivering care to patients in Samoa, promoting screening and healthy lifestyles for diabetic and obesity patients, and raising awareness through mainstream and social media. 

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