Port Louis, 17 November 2022. The Honourable Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr kailash Kumar Jagutpal launched Health Promotion Clubs in the Public Service on 14 November 2022 to mark the World Diabetes Day 2022 in Mauritius. The Health Promotion Clubs aim at promoting a healthy lifestyle among the public officers through regular practice of physical activity, talks and awareness campaigns on health issues, especially NCD risk factors and regular NCD screening programme. Eminent personalities including the Minister of Public Service, Administrative and Institutional Reforms, Honourable Mr Teeruthraj Hurdoyal and the newly arrived World Health Organization (WHO) Representative, Dr Anne Marie Ancia attended the event. High officials of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, representatives of other ministries and numerous public officers were also present.
“Diabetes is a silent killer. It affects a huge proportion of the population in Mauritius,” said Dr K. Jagutpal, Health Minister in his address. He expressed concern on the growing number of prediabetes in the population as well as the prevalence of uncontrolled diabetes. The risks of having complications are higher among the uncontrolled diabetes said Dr Hon. Jagutpal.
“You need to know yourself. That is in terms of your family history as heredity is a non-modifiable factor for noncommunicable diseases”, added Dr K. Jagutpal. He urged public officers to take advantage of the facilities that are being put at their disposal at their workplace for regular practice of physical activity to prevent diabetes and other NCDs.
“You need to invest more in your health, and you have to work hard to make this behaviour of practicing regular physical activity a habit”, further added the Health Minister.
The Health Minister emphasized on this year’s theme “Education to protect tomorrow”, and the need for better access to quality diabetes education for health professionals and people living with diabetes.
The last NCD survey conducted in 2021 shows around 20% of the overall population in Mauritius has diabetes. The prevalence of uncontrolled diabetes is a real concern as it increases the risk of severe health complications such as heart diseases, renal impairment, eyes problems and damaged arteries. Pre-diabetes and obesity are major precursors of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and therefore, promoting a healthy lifestyle at an early age will help to reverse the situation. The support and technical assistance provided by the World Health Organization was duly acknowledged by Dr Hon. K. Jagutpal.
Honourable Mr Hurdoyal, Minister of Public Service, Administrative and Institutional Reforms, expressed concern over the rising number of diabetes at global level. He said, “tackling diabetes has become very critical in the face of COVID-19 pandemic as they can lead to more health complications and cause premature deaths.”
“The health and well-being of public officers is a top priority of my Ministry”, added Hon. Mr Hurdoyal who announced NCD screening programme in different ministries and departments. The creation of a Fitness Centre for public officers to prevent and control NCDs among civil servants and improve the work life balance as well as enhance productivity is in the pipeline.
Dr Anne Ancia, the newly appointed WHO Representative in Mauritius, during her first public health event, said, “each one of us has an important role to play in the fight against diabetes”. She emphasized on small daily actions that can contribute to reducing one’s risk of developing diabetes and other NCDs.
“It is critical to promote the adoption of a healthy lifestyle among children and youth people to prevent diabetes”, said Dr Ancia who recalled the creation of the first global targets for diabetes by 2030, as part of recommendations of the 75th World Health Assembly in May this year to strengthen and monitor diabetes responses within national NCD programmes.
These global targets are, among others, 80% of people living with diabetes will be diagnosed and will have good control of their glycaemic levels and blood pressure; 60% of those older than 40 will be receiving treatment with statins; and 100% of people with Type 1 diabetes will have access to affordable insulin and blood glucose self-monitoring.
Dr A. Ancia highlighted the need to double our efforts to improve services to prevent and manage diabetes care and achieve Universal Health Coverage. There is also a need to take action to accelerate the implementation of the Package of Essential Noncommunicable (PEN) Plus regional strategy which focuses on integrating outpatient care for severe and chronic NCDs at first-referral level health facilities. The diagnosis and management of Type 1 diabetes, and other severe NCDs is also a priority for Member States in order to save the lives of children living with Type 1 diabetes.
“Despite encouraging results from the last Mauritius NCD survey report 2022, we still need to do more to reduce suffering and premature death due to diabetes and other NCDs in the country.”, said Dr A. Ancia. She also commanded the sustained efforts of the Government of Mauritius in addressing diabetes and other NCDs and for making it a priority at the level of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Promotion of a healthy lifestyle in the population remains key in combating diabetes and other NCDs. Children needs to learn the importance of healthy and balanced diets, combined with regular exercise as well as learn to say ‘no’ to smoking and alcohol while also maintaining a healthy weight, said the WHO Representative.
“I wish to reiterate the availability of the World Health Organization, in supporting the country in its fight against NCDs”, concluded Dr A. Ancia.
The World Health Organization country office has been working closely with the Ministry of Health and Wellness in view of strengthening the national NCD Prevention and Control Programme during the past years.
In close collaboration with WHO, the country has recently aligned its national food laws to international standards to ensure food safety while new legal framework for the setting up of a national food standards agency has been enacted. WHO also supported the assessment and strengthening of the foot care services through procurement of podiatry kits and training of foot care nurses in June 2022. The findings of the foot care assessment will help to improve the quality of foot care services in the country to prevent amputations among people living with diabetes. Further, the Ministry of Health and Wellness and WHO is working closely to finalize the national NCD Integrated Action Plan and National NCDs Service Framework which will soon be launched.
WHO has also been supporting ongoing training of NCD nurses in NCD prevention and promoting involvement of NGOs and civil society in addressing health issues, especially NCDs and the high prevalence of NCD risk factors. Mauritius has also enacted new tobacco plain packaging legislation with WHO legal support, and the tobacco industry has been given the necessary notice prior to implementation of the new tobacco law to address the high prevalence of smoking in the country.
The Government of Mauritius remains fully committed to provide quality health care services to the population in the face of the high prevalence of noncommunicable Diseases. No stone is left unturned in the fight of diabetes and other NCDs.