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ABG Department of Health launches ‘Ten Thousand Toes’ program to combat rising lifestyle diseases in Bougainville

The ABG Department of Health has embarked on a health program called ‘Ten Thousand Toes’ to address life style diseases in Bougainville.

Secretary for Health, Clement Totavun, revealed this in a press statement last week stating that the cases of lifestyle diseases continues to increase every month and this program aims at providing prevention approaches and health promotion activities to help address these diseases in the region.

“We are introducing a program called ‘Ten Thousand Toes’ that we think will address life style diseases on Bougainville through interventions that will promote health of our people and prevent those life style diseases occurring amongst our people,” he said.

According to the Health Secretary life style diseases such as cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure amongst others continues to increase rapidly in Bougainville and across the country as well. He says this is due to people not taking care of their own health.

“One of the main reasons is that people are ignorant and they do not know how to do the right things to prevent themselves from developing these life style diseases like cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and many others,” he said.

The program will begin with strategic set-up of screening centers in Buka, Arawa, and Buin town as well as Kokopau to conduct free testing for the public.

“We will work on an intervention plan and set up screening centers around our towns so that we test our people – do tests on blood pressure, blood sugar and see what the prevalence is for us in Bougainville so that we can put together intervention plans that will help control these life style diseases affecting our people,” Mr. Totavun said.

He said the interventions that the health teams would provide after testing will include physical activities and dietary component, which is to teach people how to prepare good meals that will not affect the body.

The Health Department is working in partnership with the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Health Services to deliver this health program and teams will be set up to work in the screening centers at identified locations across the region to carry out this program.

Secretary Totavun said they will be working with health partners in the region to carry out this program, adding that SDA Health Services have already begun rolling out the program in Central Bougainville, while the teams from the Department will begin in Buka town and eventually go out to Kokopau and Buin as well.

Health partners and teams from the health department will be working closely with volunteers from the Community Government especially at the district levels to carry out this program of testing the public.

“Partners will be working with district volunteers to do screening in the district level. These volunteers will be known as ambassadors and will be working at selected locations across the region,” Mr. Totavun explained.

Department of Health in Bougainville is focused on diabetes and cancer and their intervention will focus on prevention approaches and health promotion activities that will help reduce the burden of life style diseases in the region.

 “This is a major concern for us today because of the high prevalence of diabetes and cancer in this country, including Bougainville, so we are working with our partners to ensure that we address these   key issues,” he said.

“We are serious about addressing these life style diseases because today many of our young people are dying before reaching the level of life expectancy.”

Mr. Totavun has also called on health partners within the NGOs, CBOs and key stakeholders in the region to assist in supporting the program, adding that the program is being funded by the ABG Department of Health and the Digicel Foundation.

The funding assistance has helped the purchase of medical kits consisting of blood pressure machines and blood sugar testing strips amongst others that will be used in the screening centers to test people.

He called on the general public to visit the screening centers once they are set up so as to know their health status.

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