A call for action to fight NCDs in the CNMI

Posted on Feb 24 2012
By Clarissa David

A “call for action to change together” is needed among community groups in the CNMI to fight the battle against the alarming rise of non-communicable diseases, according to Public Health Services director Roxanne Diaz.

Diaz said now is the time for faith-based, ethnic, and any other types of groups to join efforts to prevent NCDs from spreading in the Commonwealth.

“It is very critical for the community to be involved and be champions of this fight against NCDs. We need to stop this and we need to change. It’s unacceptable and irresponsible of us to see this continue,” Diaz told Saipan Tribune.

This is why Public Health Services is spearheading an initiative to convene these community groups, individuals, and other stakeholders who “can offer some light” in the issue of NCDs, Diaz said. She added that they have funding from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the World Health Organization to deal with this issue.

According to Diaz, the problem of NCDs in the CNMI is “getting worse” based alone on their increasing number of dialysis patients. In 2011 alone, Public Health Services recorded 27 new dialysis patients, compared to 23 in 2010 and 18 in 2009.

Diaz said that about half or so of dialysis patients at the Commonwealth Health Center have diabetes and develop into complications like kidney failure, amputation, blindness, and stroke.

While dialysis patients are from different ethnic groups, Diaz noted that majority of them are still Chamorros and Carolinians. “It’s increasing and it’s really an indicator of a disease gone uncontrolled,” she added.

She said bringing the community together will help forge an alliance that “would best address” the problem of NCDs in the Commonwealth. They met with community groups on Wednesday and another meeting is scheduled tomorrow at the American Memorial Park.

With the establishment of an alliance, Diaz said that they will be able to revive the CNMI National NCD Plan of Action and update it to be more realistic and responsive to the needs of the public.

For more information, call 236-8703 or 285-3735 or email chcpublichealth@gmail.com.

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