Palau, the beautiful island nation located east of the Philippines in the Pacific, has joined the growing ranks of remote nations suffering increased diabetes problems. The spread of diabetes is now perceived as being truly global, with numerous ethnic minorities confirmed as being at risk. Although Palau has a small population (under 20,000), a recent survey on the island has revealed that amongst the local households, hypertensio, asthma and diabetes mellitus are the leading chronic illnesses.
The study was comprehensive, taking in over 5,500 households with a respondent group of over 15,000. This constituted roughly 11,000 adults and 4,000 children, and was one of the largest surveys of illness on the island to date. Hypertension was recorded as being the countries leading chronic illness, with 532 cases or 24.1 per cent of total chronic illness on the island. Diabetes was not far behind, and accounted for 22.4 per cent (495 cases) of chronic illness. Asthma was also a serious problem, although less so than the other two leading illnesses.
Betel nut chewing, a traditional practice on the island, now takes place with the addition of tobacco. One expert from the island voiced his concern that alcohol abuse was the number one health problem on the island, as confirmed by 52 per cent of respondents. Like many countries, Palau must tackle its problems early through prevention and education to avert a healthcare crisis. Asia is truly becoming recognised as the world’s fastest growing diabetes problem zones.

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