AFTNN — Reporter Sabrina Salas Matanane of Health Check, a program by KUAM News Extra in Guam presents the Guam Diabetes Control Coalition (GDCC) webinar with opening remarks from Dr. Keith Horinouchi, Chairperson of the GDCC.

The Diabetes Alert Day virtual conference on March 23rd also featured a presentation by keynote speaker Dr. Ann Pobutsky, PhD Territorial Epidemiologist / Department of Public Health and Social Services. Her research background includes chronic disease epimediology, social epimediology and community health needs assessment.

Dr. Pobutsky shared that data shows that Type 2 Diabetes or Insulin Resistance was in direct correlation with COVID-19 mortality, where the vast majority of COVID-19 cases on Guam (65.3%) were among those under age 45. The opposite is true of COVID-19 related deaths where 88% of the cases were among those older than 45 years. She highlights the following findings:

  • Three fourths of the COVID-19 related deaths were among those aged 55 years and above.
  • Diabetes was more common at older ages.
  • People with diabetes are also likely to have cardiovascular disease co-morbidities since diabetes interferes with the circulatory system.
  • There is a consistent pattern among Guam COVID-19 deaths from March 2020 to February 2021, whereby those with diagnosis of diabetes constitute about one-half of cases (49.6% – 56.3%).

What’s needed to move forward?

  • Establishment of a Diabetes Registry although this may not be feasible.
  • Continued health education on diabetes prevention, and management of diabetes mainly dietary changes to stem obesity.
  • Change the physical environment to make exercise more accessible.

More details of Dr. Pobutsky’s presentation can be seen in the video below.

The good thing that’s come out of working from home is that people are cooking more at home, planting their own bananas, green beans and sharing with others, bicycles are out of stock, people are walking outdoors with their kids and it’s an amazing change, commented Honorable Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Maga ‘hagan Guahan.

“Diabetes as we all know cause major problems like being blind, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, lower limb amputations and other ailments. The tragedy of all this is that diabetes can be prevented. A healthy diet, physical activity, avoiding tobacco, these actions can delay or even prevent Type 2 Diabetes. As a nurse, I know full well what diabetes can do to a person, and the toll it can take on a family if treatment is prolonged,”.

Honorable Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Maga ‘hagan Guahan.

The GDCC coalition has a mission to educate the community on healthy lifestyles, expansion of aquaculture and agriculture industries with a focus on children’s nutrition with local foods. They will be working closely with Guam Department of Education and establishing a school healthcare initiative with school health councillors. Outreach programs will identify families who are at high risk and under utilising health care and inviting them to the community health centres to benefit from the programs, said Honorable Joshua Tenorio, Segundo na Maga’lahen Guahan – Lt. Governor of Guam.

A message was read from the Office of the Speaker of the 36th Legislature and Chairperson for the Committee on Health, Land, Justice and Culture, Senator Therese M. Terlaje who shared these key points, “…we have been hearing that Guam’s diabetes rates have been at epidemic proportions for many years now and as far back as 2010, the Pacific Islands health officers association has declared a regional state of health emergency due to the epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the United States Affiliated Pacific Islands USAPI which included American Samoa, Guam, The Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, The Republic of Palau and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island…”

Her address was followed by a message from Arthur San Agustin, Director / Department of Public Health and Social Services, who shared a message from a personal angle as both his parents had diabetes and passed away from complications of diabetes – “It really is a lifestyle change”.

The full ADA Diabetes Alert Day Presentation sponsored by the Guam Diabetes Control Coalition is featured in full below:

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