Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) member, Malaefono Seve works on the frontline in his role at South Seas Healthcare in South Auckland and treats Pacific individuals suffering from diabetes.
He says it is heart-breaking to see people struggle with the illness, but he also feels inspired by those who make drastic lifestyle changes in their lives once they are diagnosed.
“Many people want to be around longer for their families and so they take their diagnoses very seriously. They make major changes in their lives, like eating a healthier diet and exercise and that’s inspirational to see.”
Seve works as a community health educator and is responsible for taking regular blood tests for diabetics as well as organising wrap around support and treatment, such as podiatry and eye tests.
The Pacific community has one of the highest rates of diabetes amongst adults in the world. Seve says at his clinic alone, there are about 700 patients with either Type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin, or Type 2 diabetes, a condition affecting the way the body produces blood sugars. He has personally seen many of his patients suffer from the harsh consequence of diabetes like limb amputations and blindness.
He says that 95 percent of their patients have type 2 diabetes, which is related to lifestyle such as poor diet and lack of exercise.
“We are replacing a lot of our traditional foods with imported, processed food and that has contributed to many related health problems within our community, like diabetes.”
November is Diabetes Action month and Seve says this is a time to inform families about the dangers of diabetes and that early detection is the best way to manage the illness and prevent further damage to the body.
“If you have a family history of diabetes or have had a change in lifestyle then get tested. We have the services to help and support you.
We need to reflect on this seriously because it’s an illness that deeply impacts our community.”
Date: Monday 23 November 2020