DOH asks to increase funding for diabetes awareness program

Some of the local residents, including Miss American Samoa Skyline Nua (third from left- standing), who participated in yesterday’s “Act on Diabetes Now” Walk, coordinated by the American Samoa Diabetes Coalition and the Department of Health. The walk, which ended at Utulei Beach, was part of the November Diabetes Awareness Month. [photo:FS]

Rep. Larry Sanitoa, a member of the American Samoa Diabetes Coalition says one of the big setbacks in the Health Department's diabetes prevention and awareness programs is the limited amount of funding. Sanitoa told Samoa News that the diabetes program with the Health Department used to get $200,000 a year from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention but it was about five or six years ago, that CDC started providing only $50,000 a year for prevention and awareness program while local funds are made available for this purpose.

"The limited funds makes it very difficult for health officials to carry out diabetes programs. Materials and equipment used for screening does not come cheap," he said. "A request has since been submitted to CDC to increase funding."

Last week the Coalition released data - based on information from the LBJ Medical Center - showing there are currently 115 dialysis patients and the hospital spends $43,422 per patient annually. The Coalition predicts that by 2022, the hospital would spend more than $122 million annually on dialysis patients as the number of patients increase.

These amounts do not include expenses for diabetes patients, according to the Coalition, who held yesterday the "Act on Diabetes Now" Walk, attracting more than 100 participants from various sectors of the community including Miss American Samoa Skyline Nua, young children and senior citizens. The walk is part of the November Diabetes Awareness Month in the territory.

"The turn out is great and we are very pleased to see some of our senior citizens took time out to participate in this important walk," Dr. Faiese Robie, the Diabetes Coordinator at the Health Department, told Samoa News at Utulei Beach, where the walk ended followed by a round of dance exercise.

Several participants also took time out to be screened for diabetes by Health Department officials. The Coalition and the DOH says there are over 6,000 diabetes patients in the territory, but Sanitoa and Robie told Samoa News these are only "confirmed numbers with the hospital" but the number could be higher, if more people are screened.


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