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On the ball raising awareness about diabetes

Over 100 people attended a recent volleyball sports event organised by Tū Ora Compass Health to raise awareness for diabetes in Māori and Pasifika communities.

The event was run in collaboration with Walk This Way Podiatry, Whaiora, Nuku Ora, and Te Whatu Ora with the aim to educate the local community about diabetes, general health and wellness and connect with local organisations that can support them in being active.

Te Whatu Ora Wairarapa director for Pacific People’s health, Tusiga Sealiimalietoa said the event was about education and awareness for the communities most affected by diabetes in Wairarapa.

“We die younger than our counterparts,” she said.

There is a high prevalence of diabetes in Māori and Pasifika communities, with them being three times more likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

The Pasifika population in Aotearoa currently has the highest estimated rate of diabetes according to Te Whatu Ora statistics from 2022, with Māori being the third highest.

Manager of population health at Tū Ora Rawiri Blundell said that support services and education on diabetes weren’t just for the person diagnosed.

“It’s educating the wider whānau as well,”

But unfortunately, considering the higher rates of diabetes and worse outcomes among Māori and Pasifika they typically face greater socio-economic hardship, which is a double burden, he said.

Tū Ora Compass Health will also be introducing a new diabetes service that aims to bring both “clinical oversight as well as cultural oversight”.

He Ara Whakamua will be about taking the services to the people, going to their homes and having conversations with the wider whānau and people diagnosed with diabetes.

“We need to make our services more conducive to Māori and Pasifika, so they actually access those services or want to access those services,” Blundell said.

Eseta Manesa [Pacific health lead, Tū Ora Compass Health] said the sporting event was about creating a space that felt culturally safe for people to learn together.

“This is how they encourage and empower their families to make those changes,” she said.

Most of the participants helping run the day were there on a voluntary basis, taking the time out of their weekend to support their local communities.

Oonagh Wesley-Smith works as a public health registrar at Tū Ora and was working to promote the availability of support services.

“Diabetes is preventable; there is support out there,” she said.

“Not only can we prevent diabetes, but we can prevent the health harms that occur amongst people who have diabetes.”

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