Notes on Diabetes in Fiji

This morning I had the chance to spend some time at a local urban clinic.  I have been helping Rangita, a producer and reporter for a Hindi magazine program on FijiTV, with a documentary she is making on type 2 diabetes here in Fiji.  Being a type 1 diabetic, I was able to provider her with some background and research as well as guide her in her interview questions.  Today I came along with her and two camera men to a local clinic where we interviewed a dietician and two diabetic patients.  If I spoke hindi I could give you more information on the interviews (they are all conducted in Hindi), however my main contribution came in working with the camera.  I was able to get some good shots of the pharmacy and patients receiving supplies of insulin.

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I learned that with the changing diet in Fiji including the introduction of fast food, a product of globalization, type 2 diabetes among both the Indian and the Fijian population is increasing at an alarming rate.  The crowded clinic seemed to be a mix of diabetic patients and new mothers.  Many patients were too shy or embarassed to appear on camera and speak about their experience with diabetes, but with some persuasion we were able to secure two patient interviews in addition to the longer interview with the dietician.  Heeding my advice, Rangita also got a clip of the dietician discussing ideal diabetic Fijian and Indian meals, showing the different foods and discussing carbohydrates and hidden sugar amounts.

The lunch meal displayed what I would consider a portion and a half of rice, something as a type 1 diabetic I could never afford to eat.  I guess rice is an important staple in Indian cuisine.  My mom once told me, “An Indian giving up rice could be compared to a Jew giving up bread.”  Well, I have given up both in this stage of my diet, and I must say I don’t miss either.  I do miss pasta though, so maybe I’m really just Italian?

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