Lifestyle Disease (Diabetes) Epidemiology.

Most tropical developing countries have traditionally been known to have a very high prevalence of infectious or communicable disease like tuberculosis and malaria.  While these diseases still predominate, in recent years owing to modern development and a drastic changes in lifestyle and diet the non-communicable or lifestyle disease are becoming equally burdensome in these countries.

The number of patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and other non-communicable diseases is rising drastically, especially amoungst the urban dwellers.

Diabetes EpidemiologyThe following paragraphs compiled using information from the International Diabetes Federation website will give the reader some idea of the situation:

Diabetes mellitus is now one of the most common non-communicable diseases globally and is undoubtedly one of the most challenging health problems in the 21st century. It is now recognized that it is the low- and middle income countries that face the greatest burden of diabetes.

Between 2010 and 2030 the number of people living with diabetes world wide is estimated to rise:

World wide by:                                    54% from 284,611 million to 438,435 million.

In the Western Pacific by:              47% from 76,709 million to 112,777 million

In PNG by:                                           140% from 71,500 to 172,000

In Solomon Islands by:                 160% from    6,100 to 15,000


Fig 1: Comparison of percentage increase in numbers of people with diabetes worldwide, western pacific and PNG.

Need for diabetes testing

In their paper “A survey of diabetes services in hospitals in PNG” published in the PNG Medical Journal in 2001, G.D. Ogle et al found that testing for complications (including Urinary microalbuminuria and creatinin) was very limited and glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) testing is available in only one centre, Port Moresby.  Unfortunately these tests have been unavailable for several years now at this centre since the survey was conducted. A__Survey_of_Diabetes_Services_in_Hospitals_in_Papua_New_Guinea__PDF_

The authors concluded that the services are limited and the expansion of services and awareness and prevention programs are urgently needed.

Glycoslysated haemoglobin (HbA1c), Urinary microalbuminuria (UMA) and creatinin (UC) are all essential tests to have as part any diabetes service.

This highlights the need to have in place better equiped diabetes clinics if we are to control the alarming rise of diabetes.  The situation and needs in the other South Pacific Countries is likely to be similar.

13 Responses to Lifestyle Disease (Diabetes) Epidemiology.

  1. Pingback: HbA1c, Urinary – Microalbuminuria and creatinine | South Pacific Medical Technologies

  2. Diseases that come about are curable. PNG needs to do awareness to better life. With the resources and money PNG cannot do much. Proper awareness in good health living is required.

  3. Sharla Lanzarote says:

    Am very interested in bringing awareness to the east coast of New Ireland about diabetes..starting a foundation/association over there and one of my biggest priorities is helping the aid posts around our area.
    Do you know where I can gather up information or even join a group back in Png to help me with this?

    • There already is a diabetes association of PNG which you can get in touch with. We are also in the process of establishing another and you are most welcome to join us. Keep an ear and eye out for development.

      • John Kumb says:

        Hi Dr Poyap,
        Thank you for all the information and advice on this killer disease.Alot of our people are now silently dying from this.
        I am a health Promotion Officer working on the coast NGI region and wish to go back to Jiwaka and do some work there on education people on Lifestyle disease.
        Got Masters in Health Promotion and my thesis was on Diabetes amongs the workforce and Locals in one of the mining town.
        I wish to register a Healthy Lifestyle Clinic but don’t know if the Medical Board would allow it as I am a Nurse by Profession.

      • Hi John, I think you can as long as you are clear about the services you offer and don’t do anything that is only legally allowed by doctors. Best wishes

  4. Tasha says:

    I personally think the best method to get many people aware and access diabetic services will be to bring the service to them, which could be through mobile settings where it is more accessible and for free. I know its pricey to run services but the NCD branch within the NDoH can do something about it.

  5. Sharla Lanzarote says:

    Thank you all very much. Will be making my way over to Pom hopefully before the 21st.
    Diabetes plays a massive part in my life as most of my family members have diabetes or have died from it. My father has diabetes and if we didn’t make it to Australia, I don’t think he’d be here right now. He also has had a kidney transport and on the 14th of this month it will be 3yrs since he’s had it 🙂
    So bringing awareness in PNG means a lot too me. Especially the rural areas.

  6. Hello Dr.,
    It is very frightening to see the trend in which diabetes and other LSD/NCDs are developing. It is really a global epidemic as we speak (WHO, June 2016).
    It is good that we already have a mechanism in place through which we can collaborate to address the issue in the country.
    My field of study is MPH double emphasis (Health Promotion and Nutrition). Currently, I am doing a thesis on diabetes and dietary habits in the light of sociocultural and relational aspects among the SDA Mission workers of PNG.
    I need data on the current status of diabetes in PNG. Dr. Poyap, can you assist me on that? John Kumb, your thesis looks good to be a source for reference if you can make me access a copy by any means.
    My simple suggestion and the way forward for the burden of diabetes is:
    1. Specific education of the masses on diet (food is main cause). Many blame sugar for diabetes but meat is equally to be blamed.
    2. We need more lifestyle centers as much as we need hospitals. We can reverse diabetes with controlled diet in these lifestyle centers. Our people who have money are going out of the country for lifestyle disease treatment. We can monitor and control their cases within PNG. Sadly, where I am studying now (Philippines) several people who came for treatment and died are all complications of lifestyle diseases (overweight, obesity, and organ failure). The medical bills are immense.
    3. Drugs cannot cure it. Our target can be more on prevention. Diet preference is individual so that is a burden but education can go a long way. Organic garden food needs to be promoted among our people as much as big rooster and trukai industries do theirs. There’s an urgent need…

    Thank you,

    • Hi. I agree that the situation truly is frightening. From my experiences in my initial years now with a focus on diabetes in my community based practice the biggest challenge is trying to help clients change their behaviours to lead a healthier lifestyle. It seems people can become aware however there awreness does not neccessarily lead to positive lifestyle changes. IT WILL REQUIRE A WIDER SOCIETAL ADAPTATION too … in the public system the challenge of drug availability is also big! The sooner the government prioritised diabetes the better for us

    • John Kumb says:

      Hi Zachary,
      I never noted you comments and request for a copy of my Thesis. Sorry for that. I only checked now. If you wish to, email me on and we see how we go.

  7. Jarshand Spano says:

    Wow!! That’s nice information.

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