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Boosting diabetes prevention

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27th September, 2022

Samoan people are at higher risk of diabetes and often experience avoidable complications that can be fatal. NSW Health Pathology is partnering with Western Sydney University on a diabetes prevention and management program for Australian-Samoan communities in South Western Sydney.

NSW Health Pathol­o­gy is proud­ly pro­vid­ing Point of Care Test­ing to sup­port the suc­cess­ful West­ern Syd­ney Uni­ver­si­ty Pasi­fi­ka Dia­betes Pre­ven­tion Program.

Pro­fes­sor David Sim­mons and Dr Freya MacMil­lan at West­ern Syd­ney Uni­ver­si­ty estab­lished a pilot study to test a lifestyle dia­betes pre­ven­tion and man­age­ment pro­gram for Samoan com­mu­ni­ties deliv­ered through church­es in South West­ern Sydney.

Dr MacMil­lan and Prof Sim­mons’ team devel­oped a pro­gram called Le Taeao Afua or “the new dawn”.  Using church­es as a cen­tral meet­ing point, the evi­dence-based pro­gram is designed to help the Aus­tralian-Samoan com­mu­ni­ty to pre­vent and man­age diabetes.

A Samoan com­mu­ni­ty acti­va­tor trained 20 church vol­un­teers to become peer sup­port facil­i­ta­tors. Vol­un­teers devel­oped work­shops and more than 100 activ­i­ties cov­er­ing 12 pub­lic health mes­sages deal­ing with diet and exer­cise. Activ­i­ties includ­ed cook­ing class­es, intro­duc­tion to new veg­eta­bles, reviv­ing Samoan cul­tur­al dish­es or pro­mot­ing steam­ing and grilling instead of deep frying.

Of 187 par­tic­i­pants enrolled at the start of the pro­gram, 96% were over­weight or obese and 32% had Type 2 dia­betes and 13% did­n’t know they had dia­betes until they were tested.

After 3 to 8 months, the par­tic­i­pants had sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tions in aver­age blood glu­cose lev­els (HbA1c), show­ing the project had improved people’s health.

“By empow­er­ing com­mu­ni­ties, our goal is to embed this pro­gram into the health care sys­tem and sus­tain it. We hope it can then be trans­lat­ed across New South Wales and Aus­tralia,” Dr MacMil­lan said.

The pro­gram will be expand­ed to 48 more church­es of oth­er Pacif­ic com­mu­ni­ties across Greater West­ern and South East­ern Syd­ney. The team aims to reach more than 3,600 adults and their children.

Watch the sto­ry here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOU9RRnPUoI.


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