The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea has launched the Save 10,000 Toes campaign in a bid to reduce Type 2 diabetes cases and other lifestyle diseases in the country by 2030.
The campaign is an initiative of the health department which will involve church members in fighting against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in partnership with health workers within the government and other stakeholders.
The campaign was launched at the PNG Union Mission (PNGUM) office in Lae on March 23 by Morobe Provincial Health Authority chief executive officer Dr Kipas Binga. The event was attended by New Zealand honorary consul Zoe Harrison and Australian Consulate consul general Mark Foxe, among other guests.
Dr Binga said the Save 10,000s Toes campaign was timely as lifestyle diseases were on the rise and the initiative would help the Morobe provincial health authority with its corporate plan to address the increase in lifestyle diseases and other health issues.
“We have the challenge of communicable and non-communicable diseases. HIV and TB have not truly disappeared. How do we find a balance on that and the lifestyle diseases that are coming up? We must learn to spend to keep people healthy,” said Dr Biga, adding that diabetes and cancer are on the rise everywhere, including Morobe.
“We look forward to partnering with the church for the course of our people. We must have clear pathways for patient referrals, and I think we can do this together,” he said.
Through their representatives, the New Zealand and Australian governments pledged their support for the campaign.
Ms Harrison said the campaign was a great initiative and that the New Zealand government was looking forward to working with the Church to achieve its goals.
Mr Foxe also commended the Church for its foresight in combating non-communicable diseases. “We want to work together with you. We will look at how we can partner with you,” Mr Foxe said.
PNGUM health director Pastor Zachery Lipen said the campaign will be successfull by creating a Wellness Movement and a pathway for churches, regardless of denomination, to become Wellness Centres focusing on the concept of lifestyle medicine, training, equipping, engaging and empowering members of all other denominations in towns and villages with NCD intervention skills.
Some of the activities in this initiative include training ambassadors to lead the campaign, doing health assessments in villages and towns for blood pressure, blood sugar levels, conducting trainings on the health improvement programmes, running a stop smoking and health education programmes and a media campaign.